Healthcare Texting for Patient Appointments Could Pose Risks

Healthcare organizations should be mindful of security when engaging in healthcare texting for patient appointments, according to a recent article in HealthITSecurity. Organizations that use text messaging for patient appointment communication typically offer patients the option to confirm, cancel, or ask to reschedule via text. Patients first have to give their permission to use texting as their primary method for appointment reminders.

While healthcare organization may use multiple options to remind patients, texting is usually the patient’s preferred method. And healthcare organizations have found that text messaging is normally the most effective method of reminding patients about appointments compared to email, phone calls, or snail mail.

The article article offered the following tips for using text messaging for appointment reminders:

  • Obtain consent from patients for reminders via text, email, or phone (while reminding patients that text messages may not be fully secure)

  • Only send necessary information—patient first name and last initial along with the appointment day/time

  • Verify patient contact information each visit

  • Avoid including any PHI in a text, including the organization’s name

It is expected that providers/organizations will implement procedures/processes that routinely assess the security and integrity of the texting systems/platforms that are being utilized, in order to avoid negative outcomes that could compromise the care of patients. This can be part of your overall HIPPA compliance program, provided by a company such as HIPAAcraticRx.

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