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The Joint Commission Updates Policy on Texting Medical Orders

UPDATE:
The Joint Commission has reversed this decision. For information about that reversal, click here.
For the latest on risks related to texting medical orders, click here.

After months of considering its position on the use of secure texting for medical orders, the Joint Commission (JC) has now updated its position, permitting use of this technology providing certain criteria are met.  You can find a PDF of the Joint Commission’s update here.

In 2011, the Joint Commission prohibited texting of orders due to security concerns surrounding personal mobile devices. In May of 2016, as the result of improved functionality of texting platforms, the JC revised its position to allow texting of orders, but then delayed implementation to allow organizations to prepare the necessary platforms to accommodate that technology. On August 29, the Joint Commission revised its position to allow for the immediate implementation of this technology.

The Joint Commission now says, “Healthcare organizations may allow orders to be transmitted through text messaging provided that a secure text messaging platform is implemented that includes the following: secure sign-on process, encrypted messaging, delivery and read receipts, date and time stamp, customized message retention time frames and specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders.” There are additional requirements outlined in the Joint Commission’s full update, such as the need for organizations to define policies and procedures for text orders detailing a number of steps, including how the text orders will be documented in the patient record.

As outlined in the Joint Commission memo, MLMIC encourages all providers, practices and facilities to develop a risk management strategy that includes assessing the capabilities of their secure text messaging platforms, properly training staff and carefully monitoring the use of texting for medical orders.

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