- After publishing a document in 2011 that forbid physicians to text patient care orders, the Joint Commission has changed course and now says it is allowed provided the messaging service and components meet specific criteria.
- Messaging platforms must offer: a secure sign-on process, encrypted messaging, delivery and read receipts, date and time stamp, customized message retention time frames, and a specific contacts list for those authorized to receive and record orders.
- Healthcare organizations will need to specify how texted patient care orders will be dated, timed, confirmed and authenticated by the ordering practitioner and how to document text message orders in the patient's medical record.
The news was undoubtedly applauded by providers, as well as communication platform companies like TigerText and Voalte. Brad Brooks, TigerText CEO, wrote an op-ed piece in Becker's Hospital Review in 2012, urging an end to the texting ban. The same year, Brooks and company co-founder Jeffrey Evans, said that outdated communications platforms were adding to the $150 billion wasted every year by healthcare from inefficient practices, reported mHealth Intelligence.
Voalte's director of strategy, Alex Brown, told mHealth Intelligence, "This is a tremendous step forward for healthcare communication, with enormous benefits for healthcare professionals and their patients.
The commission said it will be "assessing the need to further delineate the expectations for secure text messaging platforms and policies and procedures for texted orders within the accreditation standards."
Currently, it recommended providers that allow text orders:
- Develop a risk management strategy;
- Perform a risk assessment;
- Assess compliance with policies and procedures for text messages;
- Monitor how frequently text messaging is used for patient orders;
- Document the capabilities of the secure messaging platform;
- Develop policies that determine when text orders are appropriate and inappropriate; and
- Train staff on policies and procedures covering the use of secure text messaging platforms.