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The Joint Commission Approves Clinical Texting within HIPAA Messaging Systems

Clinical TextingThis week, the Joint Commission, a national hospital accreditation program, approved the use of clinical texting under certain parameters.


The Commission originally banned outright the use of texting between clinicians over patient care to protect patient privacy back in 2011. However, the Commission acknowledged technology has caught up and there are now safe avenues for health care providers to communicate over mobile devices via text. They write:


“Effective immediately, The Joint Commission has revised its position on the transmission for orders for care, treatment, and services via text messaging for all accreditation programs. Licensed independent practitioners or other practitioners in accordance with professional standards of practice, law and regulation, and policies and procedures may text orders as long as a secure text messaging platform is used and the required components of an order are included.”


Ranya Habash, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Everbridge and a practicing physician, said, “This is a game changer for all of us, it’s better for our patient population, our working staff and our physicians. It’s all HIPAA compliant and provides better patient care.”


“We’re pleased the Joint Commission is recognizing the recent advances in technology with vital communications tools such as HipaaBridge,” said Eric Chetwynd, General Manager, Healthcare Solutions at Everbridge. “Many hospital clinicians continue to find that the usability of EHR order entry systems (CPOE) inhibit their ability to deliver responsive and effective care to their patients. Now clinicians will have the flexibility to speed communications and improve patient outcomes.”


The Joint Commission discussed the parameters for clinical texting, the platform must include:


  • Secure sign-on process
  • Encrypted messaging
  • Delivery and read receipts
  • Date and time stamp
  • Customized message retention time frames
  • Specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders


If your health care organization would like to add HIPAA secure text messaging, The Joint Commission recommends the following:


  • Develop an attestation documenting the capabilities of the secure text messaging platform
  • Define when text orders are or are not appropriate
  • Monitor how frequently texting is used for orders
  • Assess compliance with texting policies and procedures
  • Develop a risk-management strategy and perform a risk assessment
  • Conduct training for staff, licensed independent practitioners, and other practitioners on applicable policies and procedures


Hospital systems interested in learning more can contact us about HipaaBridge and how it can improve all levels of clinical communication.