In the time it will take you to read this blog post, Americans will send approximately 25 million text messages.
Sound unbelievable? Consider this: it is estimated that over 8 billion texts are sent in the United States every day.
The healthcare sector is no exception to this reliance on texting as a primary tool of communication. It is estimated that over 80% of medical professionals use a mobile device on a daily basis.
But are text messages secure?
The answer is not as secure as one might think. A June 2016 report in Wired magazine explains that text messages are often the “weakest link” in digital communications and that hackers are more and more often preying on soft targets like SMS text messages. As a result, security experts warn against using mobile devices as a means of authentication in sensitive communications.
Additionally, harmful malware can be sent via text messages and used to gain access to a person’s smartphone. This is exactly what happened to Apple in 2016, as a malicious hacking software called “Pegasus” was discovered to be able to infiltrate a person’s iPhone via a text message.
This lack of text message security is particularly problematic among healthcare professionals. Despite the speed and efficiency provided by use of personal mobile devices, most SMS or IM messages don’t live up to HIPAA security safeguards. This is especially true when the messages contain personal health information (PHI).
Violation of HIPAA policy by unsecure texting can not only result in the hijacking of sensitive patient information, it can be extremely costly. A single HIPAA violation can result in a fine up to $50,000.
Given the lack of text message security and the significant consequences of HIPAA texting violations, many medical professionals rely on outdated technologies like pagers for PHI communications. However, there is another way, one that combines the efficiency of using one’s own mobile device with HIPAA-compliant security practices. The future of digital communication for medical professionals are smartphone applications like Amtelco’s miSecureMessages. This revolutionary software allows peace of mind and ease of use with end-to-end, HIPPA-compliant two-way instant communications.
How many of those 25 million text messages sent while you read post this ended up in the wrong hands, either by accident or by more nefarious means? It’s impossible to know, but this much is certain: more than a conscientious medical professional should be comfortable with.