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Clarifying The Joint Commission’s Secure Texting Endorsement

UPDATE: 12/22/2016—After further review, The Joint Commission has reinstated its ban on the texting of physician orders.

As the leader in healthcare secure texting, Doc Halo collaborated with The Joint Commission on the research that led to the May 2016 reversal of a previous ban on the texting of orders and continues to work with the organization to arrive at best practices.

The Joint Commission’s original ban in a 2011 FAQ document prohibited the texting of orders due to concerns that most providers were using standard texting platforms. At that time, The Joint Commission outlined four administrative standards to serve as guidelines for developing secure, HIPAA-compliant communication systems:

• Secure Data Centers
• Encryption
• Recipient Authentication
• Audit Controls

As a pioneer in the industry, Doc Halo’s communication platform has always adhered to the administrative standards. The Joint Commission consulted directly with Doc Halo CEO Jose Barreau MD as it explored the capabilities of current secure texting platforms. Their position enumerates the following requirements for secure messaging platforms:

• 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

Click here for a detailed explanation of the requirements.

The Doc Halo physician and nurse advisory board has put forth a policy on texted orders.

Doc Halo suggests:

1. Healthcare organizations should establish policies prohibiting the use of unsecured texts for PHI.
2. Whenever possible, orders should be placed directly in the EHR (CPOE) by the ordering physician.
3. Any orders received verbally, written or by text should not be accepted without synchronous verbal verification by the recipient. Doc Halo provides a seamless workflow for verbal verification. When viewing the texted order within the Mobile App, the recipient can touch the phone icon to initiate a call.

“We were proud to assist The Joint Commission in its effort to ensure patient safety and improve patient care,” Dr. Barreau says.

Please contact us if we can help further clarify this new development for the secure messaging industry.