Text Orders Securely and Within Guidelines

The Joint Commission (TJC) recently OK’d texting orders, effective in September 2016, for patient care, treatment, or services, if you use a secure text messaging platform — not your phone’s built-in messaging app — and include certain required components.

No matter what platform you use, you’ll need to update your office policies and procedures to address sending orders via text messaging. In fact, TJC postponed its original May effective date for removing the ban on secure text orders so it could provide more guidance to physicians and organizations in this regard. TJC will collaborate with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to create a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you incorporate text orders into your policies and procedures. Look for for the FAQs to be released in late September.

For example, written policies should specify: 

  • When text orders are or are not appropriate;
  • How the ordering physician will date, time, confirm, and authenticate text orders; and
  • How the practice will document text orders in the patient’s medical record. 

And don’t forget about your HIPAA Security obligations. You’ll need to assess and document whether text orders create any security risk you haven’t already addressed in your practice’s risk management plan, and if so, modify your plan as needed. 

Be sure to train physicians and staff on your texting policies and procedures, and monitor compliance.

Updated June 30 2016

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Last Updated On

May 13, 2020