10 Jan, 2018

Doctor’s Texting Patient Information May Be Coming To An End


Do you remember when we wrote about the healthcare industry incorporating digital tools into its services? This included anything from electronic health records to patient portals and the effect that they have on patient and doctor relationships. (If not, you’re in luck. You can read it here.) These tools have created a debate in the industry, as professionals and consumers try to find a middle ground that supports both patient privacy and digital transformation.

Now, as 2018 continues to unfold, new rules emerge in the industry, created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that clarifies the rules surrounding texting and healthcare professionals.

Texting Rules Gain Clarity

Since texting has become so prevalent among healthcare professionals, CMS sought to give the industry some new clarity when it comes to the protocols of using this tool in the industry.

“According to a statement, “CMS recognizes 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 team members. In order to be compliant … 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.” ASC Review reports.

In case you are unfamiliar with the role of CMS, it is a department in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working to oversee federal healthcare programs. This department plays an important role in the healthcare industry and is in charge of paying attention to all new technologies that emerge in the industry, especially electronic healthcare records.

Because of the important role that CMS has in the industry, implementing rules for texting is essential for the industry to maintain order and follow specific protocols that ultimately result in patients being protected.

“Texting Of Patient Information Among Healthcare Providers”

CMS released a memo that addresses the rules healthcare professionals must follow when it comes to texting patient information. The rules were outlined in a clear, concise way, and it basically boils down to the fact that texting patient information is prohibited.

“In an effort to clarify the position of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as it relates to texting, CMS does not permit the texting of orders by physicians or other healthcare providers.” CMS.gov reports.

The memo urges professionals to use medical records for each inpatient and outpatient, written in a clear way, filed properly and accessible for all parties involved. In order for this process to be secure and confidential, hospitals are required to have a system that only allows authorized people to view the patient records. This system differs greatly from when doctors text patient information to one another, which creates a big concern for patient privacy.

Basically, CMS is asking for healthcare providers to always follow HIPAA laws while texting within the industry.

“It is expected that providers/organizations will implement procedures/processes that routinely assess the security and integrity of the texting systems/platforms that are being utilized, in order to avoid negative outcomes that could compromise the care of patients.” CMS.gov reports.

As technology continues to emerge into many leading industries, rules and regulations are being put in place in order to achieve order among all participants in the sector.


Join leaders from North America’s leading Health Systems on May 15-16, 2018 in Arizona to discuss the latest technology, innovations, and strategies driving healthcare’s transformation.

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With the FDA launching new digital healthcare regulations in 2018, the incorporation of new technology in healthcare is becoming a reality. The patient of the future can benefit from Telehealth, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Robotics, 3D Printing, and more.

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