DocText300The Joint Commission released an update late this spring amending its position on physicians sending patient orders by text message. Previously, sending orders via text messaging had been prohibited since 2011 due to concerns revolving around security and safety.

As new technology has emerged, TJC now believes that today’s texting platforms offer functionalities that address the issues the agency once feared. So, TJC has officially reversed its position on the transmission of orders for care, treatment, and services via text messaging for all accreditation programs, effective immediately.

The agency does stipulate that healthcare organizations must first confirm that the secure text messaging platform used by staff to text orders includes the following:

  • Secure sign-on process
  • Encrypted messaging
  • Delivery and read receipts
  • Date and time stamp
  • Customized message retention time frames
  • Specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders

While this mode of communication is already being allowed, TJC continues to research the needs for appropriate policies and procedures for secure text messaging that align with accreditation standards. In the meantime, TJC suggests that organizations allowing text orders work to develop in-house policies for implementation, training, compliance and risk management. The agency also notes that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has developed resources that can be used in educating staff about the safe use of mobile devices and the protection of health information.

To learn more, read TJC’s full update by clicking here.