The Joint Commission and Texting: Can we?

There has been a lot of confusion over The Joint Commission’s (TJC) stance on text messaging–specifically text orders. In 2011, The Joint Commission published that it is not acceptable for physicians to text orders for patient care.

In May 2016, TJC made reference that technology has improved secure text messaging platforms. However, it did not clearly define its position on transmitting text orders. Causing a bit of confusion in the health care world. In December, The Joint Commission released a clarification to clear up any of the confusion.

In The Joint Commission’s Clarification they go over 4 bullet points:

  • All health care organizations should have policies prohibiting the use of unsecured text messaging–that is, short message service (SMS) text messaging from a personal mobile device – for communicating health information.
  • The Joint Commission and CMS agree that computerized provider order entry (CPOE) should be the preferred method for submitting orders as it allows providers to directly enter orders into the electronic health record (EHR).
  • In the event that a CPOE or written order cannot be submitted, a verbal order is acceptable
  • The use of secure text orders is not permitted at this time

In the article Joint Commission Clarifies Text Messaging Rules for Doctors, they quote The Joint Commission “The implementation of secure text orders was discussed with numerous text messaging platform vendors, experts in EHRs and other key stakeholders. After extensive discussion weighing the pros and cons of using secure text messaging systems to place orders, The Joint Commission and CMS have concluded that the impact of secure text orders on patient safety remains unclear.”

Although this is frustrating to the healthcare world, we can only be encouraged that as technology continues to improve that we are not too far from texting orders. I encourage you to read the clarification thoroughly to ensure you are in compliance, and not the victim of a HIPAA breach!

 

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