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Posts Tagged ‘text messaging’

To Text or Not To Text: Texting under HIPAA

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Sending text messages under HIPAA

Sometimes, technology just sneaks up on you. Patients want to speak with you – stat – about lab results or to schedule, be reminded of, and confirm an appointment without an interminable wait in the phone queue. Patients want text messaging — which has quickly become the new normal for everyday communication — to be used routinely for their healthcare needs, as well. You hesitate, concerned not only about the appropriateness of text messaging, but the legal ramifications. These are legitimate concerns.

HIPAA unambiguously states that sending health information in a text message is a straight up violation, unless it is to a patient and a proper consent form has been signed (as discussed below). This provision applies to messages as simple as appointment reminders. If you engage in such a practice and do not document context, consideration, and patient consent, you will be in willful neglect and quite possibly assessed up to $50,000 for each text message.

Why is text messaging such a hot-button issue to HIPAA enforcers? Under what conditions can health information be sent by way of regular text messages? The good news is that you can secure text messages rather simply and not jeopardize your patients’ privacy or your healthcare practice. Please read on.

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Email and Text Messaging Security in the Wired and Wireless Worlds

Thursday, August 1st, 2002

International Lecture by Dr. Erik Kangas

“Internet email, Internet instant messaging, and mobile short text messaging are related in that they enable communications by pushing messages from sender to recipient over generally insecure networks. The security issues and vulnerabilities inherent in all three modes of communication are also very similar. This talk will review standard security threats associated with electronic messaging in general, and their common remedies including symmetric and asymmetric key encryption, digital signatures, and message authentication codes. Next, a detailed exposition of the security vulnerabilities inherent in all phases of Internet email delivery will be examined and solutions such as S/MIME, Authentication, and Transport Layer Security (TLS) will be discussed. After a brief look of the serious issues involved with public Instant Messaging services such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and ICQ, the Short Messaging System (SMS) over the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) will be examined. We will review the current security protocols used by GSM and identify the vulnerabilities to SMS. Finally, several ways that GSM or SMS could be extended or modified to ensure the security and privacy of SMS messages, even in a multi-vendor mobile environment, will be proposed.”

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