A HIPAA-compliant texting app is an application that physicians, nurses and hospital employees use to exchange patient protected health information (PHI) who are being treated by the facility or clinic. A HIPAA-compliant texting app must be employed when healthcare employees send messages that contain identifying patient information.
Failure to use a HIPAA compliant texting app when sending messages to colleagues that contain PHI can constitute a HIPAA fine. Indeed, HIPAA officials have cited health facilities for exchanging protected patient information that was neither encrypted nor password protected. If and when a HIPAA fine is instituted, the fine can reach several million dollars.
The mandate to protect patient privacy was set into effect by Congress with the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that decreed the importance of maintaining patient privacy and ensured its protection.
Since 2013, HIPAA compliant messaging has gained even more importance as the 2013 legislation increased privacy and security protection for individuals’ personal health. The legislation also increased the penalty for breaches and penalties for noncompliance based on the level of negligence, with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per violation.
Since that time, hospitals have also increasingly realized that exchange of PHI via pagers risks a HIPAA violation and could incur a significant fine. By exchanging PHI via pagers and not through a HIPAA-compliant texting app, the patient information can be accessed by unauthorized third parties and be used to defraud patients and their healthcare providers.
Today, healthcare institutions are moving towards a HIPAA-compliant texting app that provides secure messaging and upholds the mandates of HIPAA.