I am studying for the nursing exam, and part of that is getting an understanding of HIPAA, especially patient records confidentiality.

From what I understand, Doctors, Nurses and Hospitals can send any patient information such as discharge or admission times, and certainly not any information about their medical issues, through a non-HIPAA compliant system.

Text messages between patient and doctors are a good example of this, since the data can be intercepted, or the information is stored on the phone and loosing the phone would be a breech of patient confidentiality.

Yet, I see it all the time in hospital and doctorís offices, and I have received texts from doctors with confidential patient information.

As I was looking into this issue, I found that Tigertext.com provides a HIPAA compliant text messaging system that meets HIPAA rules, since the text messages self delete from the phone after they are read.

So, my questions are:

  1. What is the penalty for breeching patient confidentially by sending normal text messages?
  2. Tigertext cost $10 a month, which is very affordable, but should the hospital provide it to itís staff, or should the doctors and nurses get it individually?
  3. Will a hospital be HIPAA compliant if it doesnít provide it for itís staff?

The HIPAA Security rules are here:

Summary of the HIPAA Security Rule

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