The Joint Commission, which is the national accrediting organization for health care organizations, has long banned physicians using text messages to place orders for patient care due to data security concerns. In 2011, the Joint Commission stated that texting was not acceptable for health care providers to text orders for patient care, treatment or services.

This month, in its Perspectives magazine, the Joint Commission admitted that it had performed additional research concerning the issue, and has concluded that the security in texting platforms have become more secure, and therefore, it lifted the prohibition.

In doing so, it acknowledged that texts can be secure with certain platforms, and therefore as “long as healthcare organizations implement one of these platforms and include the required components of an order, orders can be transmitted through text messaging.”

The requirements include a 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.

The texting of the orders must comply with the requirements of the Medication Management Standard for a complete medication order and obviously, must comply with the Security Rule of HIPAA.

Although the Joint Commission lifted the ban, health care entities should have an organizational process in place before health care providers start texting away. There are specific requirements that must be followed so the texts can be integrated into the patients’ medical record in a compliant way.