Joint Commission reverses course, OKs secure clinician texting

The Joint Commission has rescinded its five-year ban on healthcare organizations sending orders via text messaging in the May 2016 edition of its Perspectives newsletter.

The commission’s update allows for clinician texting and messaging for “care, treatment and services…across all accreditation programs.”

“Licensed independent practitioners or other practitioners in accordance with professional standards of practice, law and regulation, and policies and procedures may text orders as long as a secure text messaging platform is used and the required components of an order are included,” the commission said.

The requirements for a secure text messaging platform are:

  • A secure sign-on process;
  • Encrypted messaging;
  • Delivery and read receipts;
  • Date and time stamp;
  • Customized message retention time frames;
  • A specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders.

The commission also recommends organizations develop policies and procedures for how texted orders will be ordered, dated, timed and confirmed, and should consider whether a platform can integrate with a patient’s electronic health record.

While this update rescinds the 2011 ban, the commission said it will take time to develop more detailed standards.

“Staff are currently assessing the need to further delineate the expectations for secure text messaging platforms and policies and procedures for texted orders within the accreditation standards,” the commission said.

In the meantime, organizations that allow secure messaging are encouraged to decide when it should and shouldn’t be used, monitor its frequency of use and develop their own risk-management strategy.