Hospital Employee Text Messaging Could Violate HIPAA

The increasing use of cell phones and texting instead of voice conversations or E-mail by hospital employees can put healthcare facility security at risk, leading to HIPAA violations.

Some hospital systems use E-mails to notify physicians to contact the hospital about a patient, Becker’s Hospital Review reports. Those E-mails are converted into a text message and sent to a physician’s cell phone. This system is often not encrypted, but physicians will ask that more patient data is included in the message, such as his or her name and room number.

In this scenario — unless the text messages are protected by a hospital’s security system — HIPAA rules have been violated, as a patient’s name is used.

Mobile devices present special risks to hospitals, because they are often lost or stolen, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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