The Joint Commission Updates Stance on Texting Patient Information and Orders

June 6, 2024
The Joint Commission now allows accredited healthcare teams to use secure texting platforms to communicate patient information and orders, provided they meet HIPAA, HITECH Act, and CMS requirements.

On June 5, The Joint Commission announced that it has updated its stance on texting to communicate patient information and orders. Healthcare teams that are accredited by The Joint Commission that implement a secure texting platform (STP) can now text patient information and orders to members of a care team.

The Joint Commission notes that computerized provider order entry (CPOE) is still the preferred method of order entry, organizations can text via an STP that transfers the information into the electronic health record (EHR).

The announcement says that “Organizations that choose to text patient information and orders are required to do the following:

  • “Implement an STP that meets the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act Amendment 2021, and U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Conditions of Participation (CoPs) addressing medical records. The STP must be secure, encrypted, and ensure the integrity of author identification to minimize patient privacy and confidentiality risks.
  • Implement policies and procedures to routinely assess the security and integrity of the STP.
  • Confirm that texted orders transmitted via the STP are dated, timed, authenticated, and promptly captured in the EHR.
  • Ensure that the information transmitted into the EHR is accurately written, promptly completed, properly filed and retained, and accessible.”

Previously, healthcare organizations could use secure text messaging to communicate patient information, but texting patient orders was prohibited due to concerns about the security of texting platforms.

“On Feb. 8, 2024, CMS released a quality, safety, and oversight (QSO) memorandum – QSO-24-05-Hospital/[Critical Access Hospital] CAH – acknowledging the significant advancements in the current STPs,” the announcement adds. “As a result, CMS revised its policy to state that texting patient information and orders is permissible if accomplished through a HIPAA-compliant STP and if in compliance with the CoPs at 42 CFR Part 482.24 and 41 CFR Part 485.638.”

About the Author

Janette Wider | Editor-in-Chief

Janette Wider is Editor-in-Chief for Healthcare Purchasing News.