In May, the Joint Commission (an independent non-profit that functions as an unofficial part of government’s health regulatory agencies) reversed its opinion on clinical text messaging. In 2011, the Joint Commission had stated it wasn’t acceptable for physicians and other clinicians to text orders for patient care or treatment to hospitals or other care locations. The Joint Commission recently explained that in 2011 there were not many secure text messaging platforms available that had the safety and security measures in place to protect patient data.

The Joint Commission recently conducted extensive research into secure text messaging platforms and has since reversed its stance on healthcare text messaging saying practitioners can text orders as long as the secure text messaging platform they use includes these functions:

Secure sign-on
Encryption
Delivery and read receipts
Date and time stamp
Customized message retention time frames
Specified contact list for people authorized to receive orders

If a practitioner decides to use secure text messaging, texted orders must comply with medication management standards. The practice will also need to consider how text order will be documented in the patient’s health record and if texted orders will be integrated with the practice’s EHR.

If your practice decides to move forward with orders texting, the Joint Commission would recommend developing an attestation process in order to document the capabilities of your secure text messaging technology, to define when text orders are appropriate, to monitor the frequency of texts, to assess compliance, to develop a risk management strategy, to perform a risk assessment, and to conduct training.