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Communicating Protected Health Information Via Text Messaging

Health Care Compliance Association

Compliance Today

April 2016

Authors: Joan W. Feldman, William J. Roberts

There is no doubt that we are now fully immersed in a world where communications are rapid fire and electronic. Approximately three-quarters of the U.S. population own phones that can receive text messages. Some 83% of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73%) send and receive text messages. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project asked those texters in a survey how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phone: 31% said they preferred texts to talking on the phone and 53% said they preferred a voice call to a text message. Another 14% said the contact method they prefer depends on the situation. [1]

In fact, many individuals have abandoned their landlines and rely exclusively on mobile or cellular phone technology. For obvious reasons, communicating with patients at their place of employment is not always possible or welcomed by either the patient or their employer, and mail service is only fine if you have a few days to communicate your message. Although some patients prefer to receive information from their provider via voicemail, many patients prefer to receive healthcare related information via text messaging as a means to having reciprocal communication in real time.

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Reproduced with permission from the April 2016 issue of Compliance Today. Copyright © 2016, Health Care Compliance Association.

[1] Aaron Smith: Americans and Text Messaging. Pew Research Center. Available at

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