Physicians Can Send Orders by Text Message

As of May 2016, the Joint Commision has revised its position, and will now allow physicians and other licensed medical practitioners to transmit medical orders via text message. The Joint Commission, is a non-profit organization that accredits and certifies most US hospitals and healthcare organizations.

This decision rescinds a 5-year ban on doctors texting patient care orders. “Effective immediately, the Joint Commission has revised its position on the transmission of orders for care, treatment, and services via text messaging for all accreditation programs,” according to a statement published in the May issue of Joint Commission Resources.


According to the commission:

“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.”

This decision is clearly a huge benefit to doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. It will make it much easier to provide clear and specific orders.

Text Message Security for Health Care Providers

The Joint Commission has performed additional research and lifted the prohibition after it concluded that the security in texting platforms has become more secure. Facilities that make the decision to allow orders sent via text must first implement systems to meet the requirements of this decision.

They must implement a secure messaging platform that includes the following:

  • 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

They must also consider how text orders will be documented in a patient’s electronic health record. In addition to these specific instructions, hospitals and other accredited organizations that allow text orders are also advised to:

  • develop an attestation documenting the capabilities of their 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

Implementing a Secure Mobile Messaging Platform

It might seem a daunting task for your health care organization to find a mobile messaging platform that will meet all the requirements laid out by the Joint Commission. Fortunately, we have the perfect solution for you.


Retain Unified Archiving delivers a complete mobile messaging and archving compliance solution to healthcare organizations looking to provide secure and encrypted communication for iOS and Android devices, and meets all the Joint Commission’s requirements for text messaging of orders. The Retain Unified Archive collects all SMS/Text messages and phone logs from the Retain SecureLine Collector and archives all conversations in context.

Retain partners with Celltrust Secureline to provide the secure messaging platform. The CellTrust SecureLine Mobile Device App is password-protected app that can be installed on any corporate or personal iOS or Android device. The app separates the device’s storage into two separate partitions: one for business, and the other for the employee’s own personal data. It has secure-server registration, multi-factor authentication, and 256-bit AES encryption with unique dynamic keys, and full encryption key lifecycle management. The app can be downloaded from The App Store or Google Play, but requires an enterprise account for activiation.

For more information about this solution visit the Retain Secure Mobile Messaging and Compliance Solution product page.

If your facility is already using BlackBerry devices, Retain adds the requisite auditing to meet the Joint Commission’s list of requirements. It ties directly into the BES to securely capture and archive BlackBerry device messages including BBM, BBM Protected, PIN, SMS/MMS and phone call logs.

top mobile communication concerns for healthcare - free pdf download

Complete Archiving of All Electronic Communication

In addition to archiving secure text messages to meet the Joint Commission’s guidelines, Retain helps your healthcare facility comply with HIPAA and HITECH by archiving & securing all electronic communication data, on-prem or in the cloud.

Retain archives email, social media, instant messages, and mobile text data. The communicaition data and any Protected health information (PHI) is securely stored in a central archive, using AES encryption, WORM storage and iCAS technology. Plus, it provides complete audit trail to ensure that you can view what has data been accessed, and by whom.

Get Started with Secure Text Messaging and Archiving!

Get a Quote Today!


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