mHIMSS: 5 FAQs on SMS Text Messaging Implementation in Healthcare

With a lot of ambiguity surrounding how SMS can be properly implemented in healthcare messaging, the folks at mHIMSS have produced an excellent quick-reference guide that covers five frequently asked questions regarding the use of SMS in healthcare.

Covering everything from the technology needed to deploy SMS, to the many regulatory standards associated with SMS and the use of Short Codes, and even including “Personal Health Information (PHI)” within text messages, the doc provides an excellent reference point to those seeking more information on SMS in healthcare.

Probably the most important section has to do with the inclusion of PHI — “The debate is still raging regarding PHI via SMS, but to be on the safe side, you want to avoid it completely,” the document notes.  “SMS is an unsecured platform so if your message is intercepted, you are at risk for a HIPAA violation.  If you need the message to include or reference PHI, an option is to include a link to a secure site in the text.  For example, if you have a patient portal, you could text a patient that he/she has a message from his/her provider and to login to the portal to retrieve it.  There is also some discussion on whether you should use the first and last name of the recipient.  Consider whether first name is enough to personalize the message for you.”

SMS is still looked upon as the default method for messaging in healthcare, but with the fear of HIPAA violations and other risks, new methods such as mobileStorm’s AppMail solution now allow for the sending of highly-relevant, actionable messages that have the ability to include PHI.  Still, SMS very much has a place in healthcare — when done properly.

The mHIMSS PDF is available here.

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