Text messaging can simplify communication with patients in a medical practice; however, it is also risky if the doctor and staff members do not take measures to improve security. As a doctor or medical staff member, security plays a key role in patient confidentiality and privacy. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that sending a text message is as secure and safe as possible.
Put a Halt to Texting
Until there are clear rules about what can be sent in a text message, ask the entire office to stop sending text messages to patients or allowing text messages from patients. Since every individual may be following different rules and guidelines, a medical practice should clarify what actions are appropriate and what are not.
If you feel that text messaging is a true benefit to your practice, always set rules and standards to ensure that patient privacy is maintained. Text messaging should only take place after rules are established and clarified.
Encrypt Every Mobile Phone
Encryption is a simple way to avoid any complications when it comes to unauthorized access of the message that a physician is sending to a patient. Installing the software and making sure every message is encrypted will ensure that the text is only accessible by the patient. Furthermore, it prevents others from being able to understand the text message if it was intercepted for any reason.
Set Clear Standards for Text Messaging
A doctor or medical staff members should know every detail regarding the policies and options that are available for text messaging a patient. The factors to clarify in the guidelines include:
- Who can send a text message
- What information can be sent through a text message
- What information cannot be sent in a text
- How long to wait before responding to a patient’s text message
- Topics that are not allowed
- Inappropriate response times
Having clear standards and requirements will ensure that text messages do not give away any sensitive client information or discuss inappropriate topics with patients. Generally, the information should focus on informative text messages, such as confirming an appointment, or basic information. The staff members who are allowed to send a text message should also be clarified to ensure that privacy is maintained as much as possible.
Inform and Ask Permission
Every patient should have the ability to deny text messages or to opt for other forms of communication. By asking for permission in a formal form, a medical practice can ensure that every patient understands the risks associated with text messaging. Furthermore, they can ask for other ways to send messages, such as a phone call or email.
If a patient opts to use text messaging, then the medical office should inform the individual about the risks associated with unsecured texting and the measures that are in place to provide the best security that is possible. The document ensures that every patient is aware of the potential risks and can make an educated decision about using text messages.
Sending a text message to patients can be useful, but it is also risky. Every medical practice should ensure that the risks are as limited as possible and take steps to provide patients with additional solutions to communicate with doctors.
Last Updated on August 25, 2014