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Texting Among Academic Psychiatrists

What Does HIPAA Allow?


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: May 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 215–218
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000385

The texting of protected health information (PHI) has raised concerns about breach of privacy as it relates to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Within psychiatry, limited guidelines exist on HIPAA-permissible texting. Given the legal implications of a breach, we sought to better understand texting patterns among psychiatrists by surveying members of the Association for Academic Psychiatry, 53 of whom responded. Only 63% of respondents felt confident in their knowledge of HIPAA. While 64% reported that texting PHI is prohibited, most (53%) still used texting to communicate PHI. Currently, HIPAA is technology neutral and texting PHI is not explicitly prohibited, provided safeguards are taken and physicians securely communicate PHI.

Guest Columnists: NISHANT GANESH KUMAR: Department of Surgery, Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

BRIAN C. DROLET: Department of Plastic Surgery and Department of Biomedical Informatics, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Brian C. Drolet, MD, Department of Plastic Surgery, Medical Center North, D-4219, Nashville, TN 37232 (e-mail:

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