HIPAA, Texting, and E-mail — Using Appropriate Patient and Professional Communications

Jim Sheldon-Dean
Recording Webinar Available @All Days
Recorded Webinar


Using texting and e-mail for communications with patients and between professionals is one of the most current HIPAA compliance and enforcement issues. Providing appropriate access is one of the cornerstones of HIPAA. It has been identified as an area of serious non-compliance targeted in the most recent round of HIPAA Audits. It is now the subject of proposed changes to HIPAA designed to ease patient access and sharing of Protected Health Information. 

Session Highlights:-

  • Learn about the proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and how they may impact patient access to PHI and communications.
  • Please find out how patients want to use their e-mail and texting to communicate with providers and how they want to use e-mail and texting to enable better patient care.
  • Learn the risks of using e-mail and texting, what can go wrong, and what can result when it does.
  • Find out about HIPAA requirements for access and patient preferences, and the requirements to protect PHI.
  • Learn how to use an information security management process to evaluate risks and decide how best to protect PHI and meet patient needs and desires.
  • Find out limitations on using messages and calls to cell phones under TCPA.
  • Find out what policies and procedures you should have for dealing with e-mail texting and any new technology.
  • Learn about the training and education that must take place to ensure your staff uses e-mail and texting properly and does not risk exposure to PHI.
  • Find out the steps that must be followed in the event of a breach of PHI.
  • Learn about how the HIPAA audit and enforcement activities are increasing and what you need to do to survive a HIPAA audit.

Key Points:-

With the advent of texting and e-mail and their adoption by a wide swath of the public, and with increases in audits and enforcement actions following breaches, now is the time to ensure your organization meets the requirements of the regulations and meets the texting and e-mail communication needs and desires of its providers, staff, and patients. It would be best to have the proper privacy protections for health information, including documented policies and procedures on which your staff has been trained and documentation of any actions taken under those policies and procedures.

The stakes are high – any improper exposure of PHI against the rules may result in a breach that must be reported to the individual and the US Department of Health and Human Services at significant cost and with the potential to bring fines and other enforcement actions if a violation of rules is involved. Likewise, complaints by a patient if they are not afforded the access they desire can bring about HHS inquiries and enforcement actions, so it is essential to find the right balance of access and control.

In addition to HIPAA, there are impacts of the Telecommunications Protection Act (TCPA) that limit the use of cell phones and, by inference, texting or e-mail for payment and healthcare purposes unless consent is obtained. There have been actions by CMS prohibiting texting for physician orders and using any insecure texting among professionals when PHI is involved.

Professional communications involving Protected Health Information must be conducted securely, according to guidance from HHS and any reasonable Risk Analysis required by the Security Rule, so any official communications must be carefully controlled to avoid breaches of PHI.

But it’s not only the office staff and physicians who must communicate; communications with patients are crucial to patient care today.

This session will examine the rights of individuals under HIPAA to communicate in the manner they desire and how to decide what an acceptable process for communication with individuals is. The session will explain how to discuss communication options with individuals so that you can best meet their needs and desires while preserving their rights under the rules. The 2016 guidance on individual access to information and the proposed changes to the access rules will be discussed.

The session will discuss the requirements, the risks, and the issues of the increasing use of texting and e-mail for patient and provider communications and provide a road map for how to use them safely and effectively to increase the quality of health care and patient satisfaction.

Why Should You Attend:-

Proper evaluation and management of risks are also on the hot list for audits and enforcement, and that includes considering communications appropriately with patients and for business purposes that may or may not contain Protected Health Information. In addition, extensive guidance from HHS about individual access to information clarifies many areas of the access rules that must be reviewed for compliance in every healthcare organization.

Who Should Attend:-

  • CEO
  • HIPAA Privacy Officers
  • HIPAA Security Officers
  • Information Security Officers
  • Risk Managers
  • Compliance Officers
  • Privacy Officers
  • Health Information Managers
  • Information Technology Managers

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