The Joint Commission says tech has evolved, now allows secure messaging for patient orders

By Aditi Pai
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The Joint Commission has revised its position on sending orders of care via text message. Effective immediately, The Joint Commission said health organizations can send patient orders via text message as long as the messaging service and message components meet certain criteria.

“In 2011 The Joint Commission published a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document stating that it is not acceptable for physicians or licensed independent practitioners to text orders for patient care, treatment, or services to the hospital or other health care settings,” The Joint Commission wrote. “Sending orders via text messaging was prohibited due to concerns about using personal mobile devices to send unsecure text messages between providers. In addition, texting applications were unable to verify the identity of the person sending the text or to retain the original message as validation of the information entered into the medical record. At the time, the technology available could not provide the safety and security necessary to adequately support the use of text messaging for orders.”

Now, healthcare organizations can use secure messaging platforms as long as these platforms offer certain features, including a secure sign-on process, encrypted messaging, delivery and read receipts, date and time stamp, customized message retention time frames, and a specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders.

The article also explained that healthcare organizations will need to specify how patient orders sent via text messaging will be dated, timed, confirmed, and authenticated by the ordering practitioner. The Joint Commission also points out healthcare organizations need to figure out how to document the text message orders in the patient’s medical record.

There are a number of secure messaging companies that have made news in the last few years, including mPulse Mobile, TigerText, and Voalte. Because of the 2011 Joint Commission policy, even secure messaging platform companies like these did not allow patient orders to be sent via secure text. A Voalte spokesperson explained to MobiHealthNews that providers had to enter those orders directly into an EHR or make a voice call. Thanks to the revised policy, securely texting patient orders will be an option.