Using Internet-based messaging service pagers

April 8, 2005

In our office, we use a wireless messaging service, which permits us to use the Internet to deliver messages containing protected health information to doctors' pagers. Are these devices covered under the security rule?

Q: In our office, we use a wireless messaging service, which permits us to use the Internet to deliver messages containing protected health information to doctors' pagers. Are these devices covered under the security rule?

A: Yes. And because they are, you must develop and implement policies and procedures that restrict access to, protect the integrity of, and prohibit the unauthorized use of electronic protected health information sent over these pagers. Also consider whether the information you send over the Internet should be encrypted. (Under the security rule, you have to address this question, but you don't necessarily have to implement encryption.) Document why you chose the particular solution you did, especially if you decide that encryption isn't necessary to safeguard the information you send electronically.