September 01, 2017

The Past, Present and Future Of Texting Clinical Information

Sarah Coyne and Rachel Weiss, Quarles & Brady LLP, Madison, WI

Nobody is immune to the magnetic draw of text messaging as an immediate and efficient means of communication. Providers in healthcare settings are no exception - anything that can streamline the process and free up precious time is appealing. One can easily see the practical benefits of texting by providers (with each other and with patients). Text messages can be sent and received almost instantaneously, which means that important patient data can be communicated, accessed, and reviewed quickly. However, there are risks - some obvious (such as security of protected health information (PHI)) and some more obscure (such as complying with regulatory or accreditation requirements). The purpose of this article is to outline the primary legal and accreditation hurdles and identify the current limitations of texting in a healthcare environment. 

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