I was asked the following question today by an executive director of a PMC.
“Beth, if we send a text message that includes the full disclaimer that HIPAA wants to be embedded in the body of the message, should we be concerned about how much the client may be charged by their phone carrier when they get this text?”
Great question. Your concern is exactly why you MUST secure permission from the end-user (client) prior to sending them a text message. The end-user knows the text messaging plan that they have with their cell phone carrier and whether or not they can afford to receive text messages from you.
When you have a woman call to make an appointment for a medical service (i.e., pregnancy test, ultrasound exam) she is not yet a patient. All you have to do is secure verbal permission on the phone, note it in the phone log, and make a copy of the message sent and put it in a file.
Once the woman comes to your medical clinic for a medical service, she is now a “patient” and MUST sign your HIPAA compliant permission form.
After doing one of the two actions above, you have done all that is reasonable for you to do. It is the decision of the end-user whether or not to accept text messages from you. They know their texting plan with their phone carrier.
Studies indicate that most Gen Yers send over 3,000 texts a month. This means that most of your patients probably have unlimited text messaging on their phone plan. (or they or their parents would go broke…)
But you are wise to ask the question.
PS – Remember text messages should ONLY be sent from a computer, never from cell phone to cell phone.