The Pros and Cons of Text Messaging in Healthcare

Mobile health

Smartphones have taken the nation by storm, and with so many useful tools for everyday life, it’s no surprise. One of the most improved features on the smartphones is text messaging. With full keyboards and touchscreens, text messaging has never been faster or easier. While it’s most often used for communicating with friends and family, texting has even found its place in the working world. Many businesses now send text message alerts to customers instead of leaving voice messages, and many business people even communicate with their clients via text due to its ease and speed. One industry that is still playing with the idea of allowing text messaging among its employees and their clients is healthcare. Due to HIPAA regulations, sending information over insecure channels is illegal, and if any mistakes are made it can result in hefty fines. Text messaging in healthcare is still a topic of debate, but there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument.
One of the major benefits of using text messaging in healthcare is that it is a fast and easy alternative to pagers. Secure text messaging allows health care providers to communicate with each other as soon as they have a question about a patient or need advice. With the introduction of mobile apps that encrypt and decrypt messages, HIPAA compliant text messaging is a viable option. A bring-your-own-device option for health care providers can save health care systems a lot of money as long as the proper steps are taken to secure these devices and ensure text message security.
Although it can save a lot of money, ensuring that all employee-owned devices are secure can be very complicated, and HIPPA compliance over mobile devices is a big concern in the healthcare industry. Another concern is that HIPAA regulations could be violated if the health care provider’s mobile phone was lost or stolen. Unauthorized personnel could also potentially intercept even secure messages from these devices.
While allowing text messaging in healthcare certainly has its advantages, it can also pose many threats to health care providers and their patients. In the end, it is up to the professionals in the health care industry to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.

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