The increasing use of technology has greatly impacted the health care industry. Patient files used to be stored in large rooms with rows of folders and papers, but many health care facilities now use electronic and digital records. Many of the old files have been scanned and added to an existing patients records, and new records are often only digital.
This is a process that has taken precedence in recent years, as many health care facilities have begun to convert all of their files. President Barack Obama recently signed the Hitech Act in 2009 that encouraged digital health record use. The act provides $27 billion in financial incentives.
In addition to the President’s endorsement of electronic medical record use, Health 2.0 has gained significant ground in the health care industry. This is a term that has been used to promote the use of software and mobile tools to facilitate communication between patients and their medical care providers. It includes electronic medical records, mobile health apps, telemedicine, and other forms of digital communication.
The use of tiger texting has also become part of the digital health care conversation. This means that a doctor or health care provider would be able to contact a patient or vice versa using secure text messaging. Because this type of correspondence is harder to monitor, critics of this method of communication often wonder, “Is texting secure?”
The answer is, yes.
With the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the complete security of texts and emails can be achieved. This act ensures the privacy and security of health care for any individual. While Title I covers families or individuals if they lose or change their job, Title II outlines standards for electronic transmission of any health care information. HIPAA related needs are also taken into account for mobile apps, and they include making sure the app has adequate backup, emergency access options, archiving, and proper security.
As long as a health care provider or patient is sending HIPAA compliant emails or text messages, and using mobile apps properly, the issue of “Is texting secure” can be put to rest. Not only does this allow for more efficient communication, it allows for greater involvement on the part of patients in their own health care.
Ultimately, these advances in health care technology benefit the patients, and that is the whole point.