Vincentian and personal cell phones are never to be used to text protected health information to the attending physician or the resident/POA. Instead, use Point Click Care’s Secure Messaging function.

You may have previously worked for a healthcare provider, like a hospital, that permitted texting to patients or physicians.  The HIPAA Privacy Standards do not prohibit texting PHI, provided that the “minimum necessary standard” is followed. 

However, the HIPAA Security Standards require that certain “technical safeguards” are in place for the electronic transmission of PHI.  These technical safeguards encrypt and protect the security of texts during transmission from your cell to the physician’s cell.  It also protects the PHI while in the physician’s cell phone. 

Why protect the physician’s cell phone??  Because messages can remain on devices indefinitely creating a major privacy risk and if mobile devices are lost or stolen, text messages containing electronic PHI could easily be viewed by unauthorized individuals. The same is true of your personal cell phone when you send the text.  Unless you remove the SIM card prior to selling or trading-in your cell phone, a less than scrupulous individual could access old messages that you thought were deleted long ago.

Should you have a need to communicate with the attending physician, texting can safely be accomplished using Point Click Care’s Secure Messaging function.  PCC’s Secure Messaging function  provides all of the required HIPAA security protections and PCC automatically adds the text message and any replies to a resident’s electronic health record.  If you have an urgent matter or emergency and need to talk to the physician/practitioner, please call him/her directly.

At this time, Vincentian cell phones do not have the required “technical safeguards” and your personal cell phone likely does not have these safeguards unless you are paying for a specialized app.  If you have a non-urgent need to communicate with the physician, please use the Point Click Care’s Secure Messaging.