When is it okay to use non-secure text messaging with patients?

This resource was developed by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

Regular text messaging from your phone is likely non-secure as defined by HIPAA although there are proprietary messaging apps that offer full security. HIPAA does allow for you to use non-secure text messaging, but you need to inform the patient of the risks. You should also let patients know that texts may be included in their medical record as they could be requested in a subpoena or state medical boards in an audit. Law enforcement could request such as well. Good uses for non-secure text messaging include scheduling services, for example. Reaching a patient in an emergency is another example. Professional boundaries and standards are the same when using text messages. Setting clear expectations on when or if you will respond to text messages is also key. This can be written and given to the patient along with a written waiver you have them sign to document you discussed the risks of non-secure text messaging.

View the webinar below for more information.


Using Text and Email with Clients – Guidance and Resources for Providers (Pathways RTC, 2019)


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