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Up until now, it has been TJC’s position that the texting of orders did not meet TJC standards. Effective May, 2016, TJC has updated this position and will now allow the texting of orders provided that certain features are in place. First and foremost, the text messages must be sent via a secure text messaging platform. Specifically, this platform must include the following features:

  • A secure sign-on process
  • Encrypted messaging
  • Delivery and read receipts
  • Date and time stamp
  • Customized message retention timeframes
  • A specific contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders

In addition, the organization must develop policies and procedures that define how texted orders will be dated, timed, confirmed, and authenticated by the ordering practitioner. Another issue that the organization will need to address is how texted orders will be documented in the clinical record. (Some hospitals have text messaging platforms that integrate directly with their EMR. Another option is for the texted orders to be entered manually.)

If your organization will be considering the use of texted orders, TJC advises the following:

  • Develop an attestation documenting the capabilities of your secure text messaging platform.
  • Define when texted orders will be allowed and any circumstances under which they will not be allowed.
  • Monitor how frequently texting is used for orders.
  • Evaluate compliance with texting policies and procedures.
  • Develop a risk management strategy and perform a risk assessment.
  • Conduct training for all involved on applicable policies/procedures.

So, while the news regarding texting of orders may seem to be a relief, proceeding with the right amount of research and caution is highly advised. As you consider this option, check out the following resource from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC): Health IT.Gov Mobile Device Privacy and Security

It offers five steps organizations can take to manage mobile devices used by healthcare professionals.