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Texting Orders

MCN Question of the Week


Does The Joint Commission allow text messaging of orders for patient care, treatment and services?


Yes.  The Joint Commission (TJC) recently reversed their stance on the use of text messaging for patient orders.  TJC has outlined several requirements for health care organizations using text messaging and it is expected that addition requirements will evolve as the use of this technology broadens.

According to TJC, health care organizations may allow licensed independent practitioners or other practitioners to transmit orders via text messaging under the following conditions:

  • The orders are in accordance with professional standards or practice, law, regulation and organizational policies and procedures.
  • The text messaging platform includes:
    • Secure sign-in process
    • Encrypted messaging
    • Delivery and read receipts
    • Date and time stamp
    • Customized message retention time frames
    • A specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders
  • Texted medication orders are expected to comply with MM.04.01.01 which delineates the required elements of a medication order and specifics actions to take when orders are incomplete or unclear.

Organizations are expected to have written policies that describe the appropriate use of text messaging for orders.  Policies should, at a minimum:

  • Describe approved use for orders sent via text messaging including categories of individuals who are allowed to use this technology.
  • Review the requirements of a secure platform for text messaging
  • Specify how orders transmitted via text are dated, times, confirmed and authenticated by the ordering practitioner and documented in the patient’s medical record.

In their recent update about the use of text messaging for patient orders, TJC advises health care organizations to do the following:

  • Develop an attestation documenting the capabilities of the organization’s text messaging platform
  • Define when texted orders are appropriate and when they are not appropriate
  • Monitor how frequently text messaging is user for orders
  • Assess compliance with organization’s texting orders policies
  • Develop a risk management strategy and perform a risk assessment
  • Conduct training for staff, licensed independent practitioners and other practitioners as applicable on the organization’s texting orders policies and procedures.

Related Products from MCN Healthcare

Information Management Manual

Medical Records Health Information Management Manual



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