Texting is one of the easiest ways to communicate.
That's why so many of our colleagues know texting is in direct violation of HIPAA but text about (and with) patients, anyway.
At different points in time, The Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation has looked like it was in support of "secure texting" -- but a recent decision reverses that stance and makes any texting a violation.
Initially, texting was not approved for healthcare collaboration by the Joint Commission. They issued this statement in 2011: "[It] is not acceptable for physicians or licensed independent practitioners to text orders for patients to the hospital or other healthcare setting... This method provides no ability to verify the identity of the person sending the text and there is no way to keep the original message as validation of what is entered into the medical record.”
On May 1, 2016, the Joint Commission revised its position and stipulated components. It announced that health care organizations may allow orders to be transmitted with certain standards in place.
Then in June, it disallowed texting again, with a plan for more study. Standards will be developed by the Joint Commission and CMS.
To us, with the risks and consequences of running afoul of HIPAA, we believe that it's simply too risky to do any texting with Patient Health Information (PHI).
When there are simple tools like iClickCare that meet criteria for electronic orders as well as healthcare collaboration -- and have never been disallowed -- it just doesn't make sense to risk it. iClickCare also uses texting, but only as a secure notification of a request for collaboration. The order follows once the collaboration is started.
As we have noted frequently, texting and emails are illegal. Secure texting helps to keep PHI secure, but does not help coordinate care or collaborate on behalf of he patient.
Be careful. HIPAA penalties don't take into account intentions -- only regulations.
Our HIPAA checklist is free, and could help you protect yourself. Get it here: