I received a text this morning reminding me of a dental appointment in two weeks. I appreciate the reminder. Still, I don’t remember ever providing authorization to text me. For many items related to my healthcare, I certainly prefer a quick text (or email) over the secure platforms that require signing up for an account and logging in.

Patients are free to give permission to allow informational communications by text or email. But, if does need to conform to HIPAA. The following template might be helpful (note: this is not legal advice).

“Federal law prohibits this practice from sending you texts or email which are unencrypted or “unsecure.” However, many patients find it convenient to communicate with our office by traditional text and/or email. Those modes of communication are generally not considered “secure.” Some patients appreciate the tradeoff between ease of use / convenience and security. We want to accommodate your preferences. If you would like to communicate with us by “unsecure” text or email, please confirm below by providing your authorization. We will keep your preferences in force with no current expiration date until we learn otherwise. Obviously you can change your mind at any point down the road. Just let us know in writing so we can stay updated with your preference(s). Obviously if messages are sent through such channels, they may no longer be protected by HIPAA. Finally, whether or not you decide to use email or text messaging, your choice will have no impact on our decision to treat you. We are here for you.
I authorize the practice to communicate with me by “unsecure” text; that text number being: ______________ (number) ______________(signature/date);
I authorize for the practice to communicate with me by “unsecure” email; that email address being: ______________ (email address) ______________(signature/date)”

Next, your texting vendor should sign a Business Associate Agreement so they don’t create any mischief with the mobile numbers.

Finally, a text is part of the medical record. Preserving it might just toss you a life preserver down the road when memories are short.

What do you think? Do you use texting or run of the mill email in your practice to communicate with patients.