Doctors and other healthcare professionals are expected to demonstrate increasing adeptness with all manner of digital communication and recordkeeping but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently cautioned against being too cavalier with one of the most commonplace means of swapping information: texting.
In a memorandum issued shortly before the new year, CMS reinforced that it “does not permit the texting of orders by physicians or other health care providers.” The agency notes that such transfer of medical orders puts a facility outside of compliance with Conditions of Participation (CoPs) or Conditions for Coverage (CfCs) because records aren’t being retained properly.
More general communication among healthcare professionals via secure texting platforms is allowed, the new memorandum states.
“CMS recognizes that the use of texting as a means of communication with other members of the healthcare team has become an essential and valuable means of communication among the team members,” the agency writes. “In order to be compliant with the CoPs or CfCs, all providers must utilize and maintain systems/platforms that are secure, encrypted, and minimize the risks to patient privacy and confidentiality as per HIPAA regulations and the CoPs or CfCs.”
The clarification was needed after CMS contacted at least two hospitals with the far blunter message “texting is not permitted.” When the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) reported on the directive in their newsletter, speculation was rampant that CMS was instituting a broader crackdown.
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Filed Under: Industry regulations