HIPAA Ruling Regarding Correspondence Through Text Messages and Emails: Is Your Organization Compliant?

Organizations must understand the various ways that health care communications can take place, and how texting and email fit in with HIPAA rules.

Medical professionals want to use texting and email to communicate professionally, and the HIPAA Omnibus Update rules contain numerous changes to HIPAA privacy, security, and breach notification rules that affect communication with patients and clients of health care services, who often ask to communicate with health care offices via email or text message. Many of the policies and procedures in place at every health care-related organization will need to be reviewed and updated to meet the new requirements in the rules and meet the desires of staff and patients to use time saving technologies like texting and email. Organizations need to understand the various ways that health care communications can take place, and how texting and email fit in with the HIPAA rules. They need to design and implement a communication policy and plan, and train their staff on it, or they may face significant new fines for noncompliance.

While professional communications between providers, insurers, business associates, and other business parties should always be conducted securely, there is more flexibility in using less secure technologies for communications with patients in some circumstances. Discuss the differences between professional communications and patient communications, and how they must be treated to best serve patients, most efficiently enable communications, and remain within the bounds of HIPAA compliance.

Key Agenda Points

  • How People Want to Use Email and Texting in Health Care
  • HIPAA Requirements
  • Preparing for Breaches of PHI, Audits and Enforcement

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