Providers May Now Text Patient Info, Orders to Care Teams

A significant update from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) states that healthcare providers working in hospitals and critical access hospitals are now approved to text patient information and orders among care team members without violating Medicare’s Conditions of Participation. However, there’s a crucial requirement: these communications must occur over secure texting platforms that adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. While CMS still prefers traditional methods for entering orders, such as computerized entry or handwritten notes, it acknowledges the advancements in secure texting technology that allow for safe, encrypted data transfer directly into electronic health records (EHRs). 

Effective immediately, as of February 8, this policy shift comes after CMS previously paused text-based patient info exchanges due to privacy, security, and record integration concerns. The update reflects technological improvements and a recognition of texting as a vital communication tool within medical teams. Providers must ensure their texting platforms comply with HIPAA, the HITECH Act Amendment 2021, and CMS’s Conditions of Participation. Moreover, CMS advises providers to continuously evaluate their secure texting solutions to prevent potential negative impacts on patient care. 

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has lauded this move, highlighting the benefits of quicker treatment decisions and reduced clinician workload. This policy change is a positive step towards enhancing patient care and provider efficiency by integrating modern communication technologies within healthcare protocols. 

Providers May Now Text Patient Info, Orders to Care Teams (Muoio, Fierce Healthcare, 2/12). 

 

Categories: PulsePublished On: February 22nd, 2024Tags: , ,

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