- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a memo to state survey agencies clarifying its position on physician texting.
- While CMS flatly prohibits the texting of patient orders, members of a healthcare team may exchange information via a secure platform, according to the Dec. 28 memo.
- The memo follows a report by the Report on Medicare Compliance that two hospitals had been warned by CMS that any form of texting was prohibited, FierceHealthcare reports.
CMS expects doctors to place electronic orders using a computerized provider order entry, or CPOE. Such orders are automatically downloaded into an EHR, providing authentication, date and time.
Texting of physician orders, on the other hand, fail to meet federal requirements for form and retention of medical records. Under CMS’ Conditions of Participation for Medical Records and Conditions for Coverage, hospitals must maintain records in their original form for at least five years and be able to ensure their confidentiality.
“CMS recognizes that the use of texting as a means of communication with other members of the healthcare team has become an essential and valuable means of communication among the team members,” the memo dated Dec. 28 says. However, HIPAA privacy requirements create unique considerations around the use of texting in healthcare.
“It is expected that providers/organizations will implement procedures/processes that routinely assess the security and integrity of the texting systems/platforms that are being utilized, in order to avoid negative outcomes that could compromise the care of patients,” the memo adds.