CMS Prohibits Texting of Patient Orders

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a Survey and Certification Memorandum (Memo) clarifying that the texting of patient orders is prohibited regardless of the platform utilized.

In this memo, CMS states that texting patient orders is not in compliance with CMS’s Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) or Conditions for Coverage (CfCs). CMS identifies computerized provider order entry (CPOE) as the preferred method of entering orders into a patient’s medical record.

To support its position, CMS notes that the texting of patient orders is specifically at odds with hospital CoPs regarding medical record services.

With the advent of secure encrypted messaging applications, the communication of patient information between health care providers via text messaging has become increasingly more prevalent. CMS recognizes that text messaging amongst health care team members is a valuable method of communication. Thus, although CMS explicitly prohibits the texting of patient care orders, CMS does permit the texting of patient members amongst providers as long as such information is communicated through a secure platform.

CMS advises that providers, who utilize secure text messaging platforms, implement policies and procedures to routinely assess the security and integrity of such systems. To comply with CoPs and CfCs, providers must use and maintain messaging systems that are secure, encrypted, and minimize risks to patient privacy and confidentiality.

In December of 2016, after collaboration with CMS, the Joint Commission issued a similar clarification stating that the utilization of secure text messaging platforms to communicate patient care orders is not acceptable.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) will continue to monitor any further CMS response regarding secure text messaging platforms and notify members of additional updates.

PAMED members with questions can contact our KnowledgeCenter at 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348) or KnowledgeCenter@pamedsoc.org.

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