When you have a quick question for your doctor, sending off a text can save you up to thirty minutes of waiting on hold, leaving messages, and speaking on the phone.
Can I text my provider, and what can I text my doctor? Which types of text messages are professional enough for a patient-provider conversation?
Two-way texting for patients and doctors is surrounded by a long list of privacy regulations. Provider time is also usually limited to in-person appointments.
Here’s the bottom line: Very few doctors offer open-ended two-way patient texting, but many doctors utilize specific texting functions like appointment confirmations, missed appointment reminders, scheduling and booking confirmations, basic information and room ready reminders.
Every provider is different, so you should ask your office whether or not they provide HIPAA compliant texting options, and what their restrictions are.
Let’s discuss why healthcare texting is up in the air right now. We’ll also cover the types of texts that doctors do send, as well as other ways you can contact your doctor.
One of the most desired features in healthcare right now is two-way texting. Caretakers and patients want to have quick and convenient modes of communication with their healthcare providers.
Privacy concerns: Texting is not a direct violation of HIPAA (the privacy laws that protect patients in healthcare). Depending on the content, destination, and safeguards of the message, texts might be in compliance with HIPAA standards.
However, SMS and IM text messages usually fail to have the encryption, authorization controls etc. necessary for patient protection.
Limited time and resources: Despite the challenges, the healthcare industry wants to make it easier for parents to text with their providers for routine services. HIPAA compliant texting software companies have cropped recently due to advancements in encryption and the demand for remote health services during the pandemic.
Even with safer texting methods, the provider has to be vigilant about ensuring safe and appropriate content in every text message. Providers care about patient privacy, and HIPAA violations can result in a $50,000 fine.
Providers will have to invest significant time and energy into open-ended patient texting. Providers are already experiencing unprecedented burnout levels before introducing 24-7 connectivity with their patients.
Healthcare facilities are beginning to use the following texts with greater frequency:
The following messages may also be exchanged with the patient’s permission:
Patients can respond in specific ways authorized by these text messages, but they are usually not open-ended.
If text just isn’t an option at your practice, here are some other ways you might be able to get in touch with your providers:
· Messaging through a health portal
· Calling your doctor’s office
· Emailing the doctor’s office
Never use these methods in an urgent situation. Visit your local emergency room, urgent care or doctor’s office depending on need and availability.
Texting in healthcare will continue to evolve. Experts will strike the right balance between privacy concerns, provider lifestyle, and patient access.