It may sound surprising, but text messaging remains a primary form of communication in healthcare. Despite having other options, such as email or online fax, many healthcare providers still prefer texting to communicate with colleagues and patients.
Using texting apps in healthcare has sparked concerns over the safety and privacy of sensitive patient information. Questions about whether text messaging apps comply with federal laws like HIPAA have surfaced. But fret not, because below is a list of HIPAA-compliant texting apps that you can use to ensure smooth and secure communications.
Here are 5 of the best HIPAA-compliant text messaging apps of 2024:
What Is HIPAA-Compliant Texting?
Texting itself isn’t always secure, and what more if you use it to send and receive messages containing protected health information (PHI)? HIPAA-compliant texting aims to address this concern, allowing healthcare providers to use text messaging apps while complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.
In such cases, it’s a must to choose a text messaging app that’s HIPAA-compliant. So, how do you know if a text app complies with HIPAA? Well, there are multiple ways to check. First, you need to see if the app has the technical and administrative safeguards outlined in the HIPAA Security Rule.
Top 5 HIPAA-Compliant Text Messaging Apps
To save you from the hassle of looking through each app in the market, we’ve put together a list of the best HIPAA-compliant text apps to consider:
Rocket.Chat is an open-sourced but secure team collaboration tool that enables communication between patients and medical providers. Many healthcare organizations use Rocket.Chat to centralize their communication channels within a single app. It also provides a detailed HIPAA guide for medical providers and businesses to ensure compliance. Rest assured that any patient data exchanged is encrypted and labeled anonymous for individual protection.
Another HIPAA-compliant text messaging app is Weave, a unified communication platform where users can send messages by text. When interacting with patients, medical providers can take advantage of its advanced features, such as online scheduling, setting up reminders, analytics, and more.
Weave is a HIPAA-compliant messaging tool tailored for startups and businesses such as medical clinics, physical therapy, and dental clinics. In adherence to HIPAA, the text app employs powerful encryption and has established security protocols for using and disclosing PHI.
3. Revenue Well
Revenue Well is a comprehensive dental practice marketing and patient communication platform. It offers HIPAA-compliant messaging and centralized phone calls, emails, and faxing via cloud-based phone systems. One of the great features of Revenue Well is how it ensures HIPAA compliance by preventing the unauthorized sharing of any treatment-specific information or PHI via phone call.
Well is a unified two-way messaging patient communication platform designed for enterprise healthcare systems. Patients can choose their preferred channel integration within the app, such as Teladoc Health, Zoom, and Vidyo. Inside the app are options that allow you to set appointment reminders, schedules, lab results, and patient satisfaction surveys.
As a HIPAA-compliant secure messaging platform, the app connects patients to medical providers through phone calls, text, email, and live chat. It also has a configurable workflow and personalized messaging tools to prevent unauthorized sending.
OhMD is a secure and straightforward messaging tool for healthcare professionals. The communication platform can be useful for physicians and pharmacists who want to remind their patients about their medical appointments, medications, and lab results.
Encrypted SMS and EHR integrations within OhMD help users communicate more efficiently.
Key Features of a HIPAA-Compliant Texting App
Popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook have repeatedly compromised their users’ data privacy and security. Thus, looking for the following features in a HIPAA-compliant texting app is crucial to avoid risking the safety of PHI.
Under HIPAA, covered entities and business associates must apply end-to-end encryption to safeguard sensitive patient information in transit and at rest. Similarly, messaging apps must encrypt their users’ messages and calls to prevent unauthorized users or cyber attackers from exploiting them.
Access controls and user authentication
Only patients and medical providers should have access to their conversations within the messaging app. Additionally, the SMS tool must implement measures such as multi-factor authentication and assign unique OTPs or password codes to ensure HIPAA compliance. It’s also a must to have an option to restrict access depending on the user’s role.
Message retention and auditing
Organizations regularly conduct HIPAA compliance audits to ensure patient privacy. In this regard, HIPAA-compliant SMS tools should provide ways to encrypt archived messages to help facilitate a seamless HIPAA audit and assessment. These audits help overcome potential risks associated with PHI transmission.
Benefits of Using HIPAA-Compliant Texting Apps
Besides keeping patient information safe from breaches, using HIPAA-compliant text messaging channels offers several advantages, including:
Enhanced care coordination
Using reliable and secure texting apps for healthcare strengthens the trust and loyalty of your patients. Communicating with them regularly and sending important reminders can foster a sense of belongingness and enhanced care.
These HIPAA-compliant apps can automate appointments and payment procedures to make it easier for your patients. Keeping them informed about their well-being can help them decide what’s best for their health.
Secure patient communication
With proper encryption and access controls, medical providers can be sure that their patient data are stored and transmitted securely. Two-way messaging also boosts patient engagement, as most prefer texting over phone calls. Furthermore, secure text messaging lets you streamline healthcare communication with patients, staff, and colleagues.
Using HIPAA-compliant texting apps can help medical providers prevent hefty fines and legal consequences. These apps employ robust access controls and security measures to combat unauthorized PHI disclosure and data breaches. Aside from ensuring legal compliance, it can save everyone’s time, including physicians who would rather focus on providing quality care.
Choosing the Right HIPAA-Compliant Texting Solution
Texting using a HIPAA-compliant application isn’t just about choosing what is popular or affordable. Several crucial factors must be considered, including having a signed Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with the app’s provider.
A texting app may employ the security measures you need to safeguard healthcare data. Still, if any other vital elements are missing, you cannot consider that app HIPAA-compliant. Also, training your staff about the best practices for using these apps is crucial. Regular training ensures that everyone in the team knows the proper text messaging procedures and protocols.