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Text messaging and ePHI

April 12, 2018

 

Text messaging has become an important communication tool for medical practices. However, there has been relatively little guidance on the scope of its permissible use. The number of text messages sent in the United States has grown exponentially from an estimated 12 million per month in 2000 to 780 billion per month in 2017. More than half of all physicians (60%-80%) use text messaging for clinical communications.

 

While text messaging of protected health information (“PHI”) is not prohibited by HIPAA, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently issued a memorandum to State Survey Directors, which was intended to clarify CMS’ position as it relates to texting. While recognizing that texting is a valuable and essential means of communication with other members of a patient’s healthcare team, CMS’ position is that the texting of patient orders by physicians or other health care providers is not permissible, because it does not comply with the CMS Conditions of Participation (“CoPs”) and Conditions for Coverage (“CfCs”) requirements applicable to the maintenance of medical records. For more information, visit the JDSupra website.

 

Learn more about HIPAA compliance at HIPAAcraticRx.com.

 

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