Texting? When Do You Need Specific Patient Consent?

Text messaging, also known as SMS, is blowing up, and with good reason. Even top medical call center services utilize texting. Uber-effective, 98% of text recipients read messages – 90% within 3 minutes. Offering simple and effective communication, healthcare providers are scrambling to take advantage of its high contact and rapid response rate. But not so fast – using text incorrectly could land you in some seriously hot water.

Avoiding liability: The devil’s in the details.

There are typically two types of text messages from healthcare practices: marketing, and transactional. Transactional messages facilitate, confirm, or complete a previously agreed upon transaction – specifically appointment or checkup reminders – and as such are not bound by consent. Transactional messages do NOT include reminders to schedule upcoming appointments, nor do they cover marketing messages informing patients of new services or health tips – all of which require patient consent by law.

What type of consent?

Written consent stored with patient files is the gold standard for the most protection against liability, with patients opting-in on the types of messages they would like to receive, alongside notification of potential risks. There are many great sample forms online.

Assuring HIPAA compliance

Text messaging is HIPAA compliant under specific circumstances: Text messages sent, received or stored on a mobile device must comply with the latest HIPAA regulations, utilizing “administrative, physical and technical safeguards [exist] to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of electronically stored or transmitted private health information.” Failure to comply could result in civil action or criminal charges from the OCR.

Looking for secure, HIPAA-compliant SMS medical call center services? MedConnectUSA has you covered. Contact MedConnnectUSA today.