Is FREE worth non-compliance or losing your study data?

Text messaging is a powerful research communication and data collection tool, and Google Voice’s free texting capability has gained widespread popularity with clinical researchers. However, while the app’s free status has understandable appeal, using it in your research study could end up costing more than you realize.

At Mosio, we’ve talked with many researchers who are looking for a Google Voice alternative after running into problems using the app in their studies. Let’s take a look at the issues they’ve shared with us.

Legal and Privacy Issues

As researchers working with protected health information, you and your staff are subject to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws. Google Voice is a consumer product, and it is not covered under Google’s current business associate agreement. For these reasons, the app does not meet HIPAA security standards, and using it to communicate with research participants is a violation of HIPAA law.

Given the large amount of sensitive information that your study deals with, protecting participant privacy is a top priority. Google Voice’s unsecured channel leaves your participants’ information vulnerable to hackers, and the Federal Trade Commission also fined Google for privacy violations in late 2019. In short, you’re wise to avoid trusting Google Voice with any protected health information.

If that isn’t a big enough reason to switch solutions, here are some other things to consider.

Limited Settings

Google places a limit on the number of texts you can send, and the company does not disclose the number of messages they allow per day. Depending on the size of your participant pool, you may reach your limit quickly. Some researchers have also encountered problems with Google locking their account unexpectedly, leading to a permanent loss of data.

Poor Clinical Workflow Compatibility

As opposed to standard business correspondence or everyday conversations between friends, your unique texting needs include sending surveys, medication or appointment reminders and follow-up messages.

Google Voice’s text line offers nothing more than traditional two-way texting, leaving you with no capability to send automated messages or repeating texts to large groups. Additionally, you have no access to data from either your sent messages or your participants’ replies.

While Google Voice offers several convenient features that work well in various contexts, Google did not design this app for the clinical research setting, and using it for your study communication has serious drawbacks.

Mosio offers solutions specifically designed for clinical researchers. With its fully encrypted and HIPAA-compliant system, Mosio is a trustworthy Google Voice alternative that keeps your participant information secure while also safeguarding you from legal liability. We also offer unlimited texting capability, so you can send and receive as many messages as your research requires.

Although Mosio isn’t free, your initial investment can end up saving you time, resources and money in the long term.  We would love to talk to you about your project and offer an affordable and compliant solution for your project.  Contact us to talk more about your project and get a free quote/project plan here.