Features  |   October 2013
Texting, Safety and Privacy: How Your Smartphone Interfaces With HIPAA
Author Affiliations
  • Jaidepp Mehta, M.D., M.B.A.
    Committee on Electronic Media and Information Technology
Article Information
Practice Management / Features
Features   |   October 2013
Texting, Safety and Privacy: How Your Smartphone Interfaces With HIPAA
ASA Monitor 10 2013, Vol.77, 18-20.
ASA Monitor 10 2013, Vol.77, 18-20.
The rapid adoption of smartphones and text messaging has created new ways for individuals to communicate. The instantaneous delivery of messages with the opportunity for asynchronous communication has the potential to transform communication between clinicians. However, standard text message technology does not meet the standards and rules for privacy and security required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, and the Joint Commission.1 -3  Etiquette surrounding the appropriate use of these devices has also not kept pace with the adoption of the technology – not everyone realizes that texts are not secure, nor that messaging a photo of an O.R. schedule is not only inappropriate, but potentially a major HIPAA fine waiting to happen.4  Much like discussing a patient in a crowded elevator or carrying a photocopied O.R. schedule out of the hospital, bad behavior by health care providers can pose significant risks to patient privacy.5 
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