Despite The Joint Commission’s stance on text messaging of patient orders, verbal orders should not stand alone

Jan 19, 2017

In May 2016, The Joint Commission (TJC) lifted the ban on text messaging by practitioners to communicate patient orders. However, in December 2016, TJC stated that the impact of secure text orders on patient safety remains unclear and issued a clarification stating that the use of secure texting for patient care orders is unacceptable.

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sean Kelly, recently authored a response to TJC’s clarification statement for Becker’s Hospital Review that provided a counterargument that secure messaging, when layered on top of verbal and electronically-entered orders, may be a solution that’s safer and more efficient.

The Joint Commission provides these reasons for why text messaging is not acceptable for placing orders:

1. It proves to be a burden for nurses to manually transcribe orders into the electronic health record (EHR).

2. Verbal orders allow for clarification and confirmation by the practitioner.

3. The individual placing the order may need to contact the practitioner for more information if a clinical decision support (CDS) alert is triggered during the entry process.

Although these reasons indicate why many healthcare organizations rely heavily on verbal orders over text messaging, there are still downfalls, which Dr. Kelly highlights in his article. Fortunately, there are secure text messaging solutions that work with verbal orders to provide increased clinical efficiency and patient safety, given that they meet the text messaging standards articulated by TJC.

Imprivata Cortext is one secure texting solution that continues to meet and exceed TJC’s standards, and adoption is growing at a rapid rate. We encourage all healthcare providers to consider the benefits of a secure text messaging solution for adding an additional layer of safety and effectiveness to patient care in the way it was always intended to be used - as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, orders entered properly into the CPOE system.