Health Information Management

Are your workforce members texting PHI?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, May 28, 2012

Belinda Setters, MD, knew she was possibly violating HIPAA regulations. But she had no intention of stopping.

Just what was the doctor doing that was so wrong? She was texting messages that contained PHI via her smartphone to fellow physicians and other healthcare professionals. And even though she knew the text messages were not encrypted and she could be violating HIPAA, Setters said the method of communication was too convenient for her to stop using it.

So Setters—who is director of hospital services and the geriatric medicine fellowship, as well as an associate professor of geriatric medicine, at the University of ­Louisville in Kentucky—urged those responsible for HIPAA privacy and security to take action. And they did, ­buying an application that encrypts text messages and thus protects the university system from a HIPAA breach.

"I flat out told my HIPAA folks, 'I'm not giving up texting. We've got to find a way to do this. I'm a very busy hospitalist. You've got to help me find a way to make this happen,' " Setters said. A pilot program is working successfully in her department, and the organization plans to roll it out universitywide and hospitalwide to include all of the facilities within the system.

Click here
to read more in the June issue of Briefings on HIPAA.

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