New app allows for HIPAA-compliant texting

September 3, 2013

Few people need to be convinced of the advantages of texting. It may be the fastest and most efficient way of sending information in a given situation. Reports show that texting among physicians is widespread and that they are texting clinical information — whether it is legal to do so or not. Physicians who text each other clinical information risk exposing themselves to privacy and security violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA.)

But a new smartphone app is changing all that. 

Physicians in Wyoming now have the option to text each other patient information in a secure, HIPAA-compliant manner, thanks to an app called DocBookMD.

DocBookMD is a physicians-only smartphone app that allows physicians to:

  • send HIPAA-compliant text messages and photos;
  • assign an urgency setting to outgoing text messages;
  • search a local pharmacy directory; and
  • search a local medical society directory (including email addresses and photos).

“DocBookMD allows you to look up another doctor at the point of care. You can then either call the physician or send a text message with room numbers, medical record numbers, even pictures of wounds and x-rays. And all of this is sent securely and in a way that meets HIPAA requirements,” says Dr. Tim Gueramy.

Dr. Gueramy, an orthopedic surgeon from Austin, Texas created DocBookMD with his wife, family physician Tracey Haas.


HIPAA-compliant text messaging

Message content can include patient information, such as diagnosis, test results, or medical history. Physicians can also add a high-resolution image of an EKG, an x-ray, lab report, or anything that can be photographed with a smart phone to the message.

Messages can then be sent using the app’s messaging priority system. Physicians can assign each message a 5-minute or 30-minute. “If the recipient does not answer the message within 5 minutes or if the message does not get to the doctor, you will then get a message back stating that it did not make it,” says Dr. Gueramy. “You can see and hear that the message you receive is different from any other text.”

All messages sent using DocBookMD meet HIPAA’s requirements for encryption and the security of protected health information. This is accomplished through technology that keeps everything encrypted on the DocBookMD server. Messages are not downloaded to the phone, but are viewed from the phone.  Physicians are also required to sign a HIPAA agreement before using DocBookMD.

To register or for more information on DocBookMD, please visit Physicians who would like to use DocBookMD, but live outside of the WCMS service area (the 16 counties of WNC), are urged to contact DocBookMD by email at

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