The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a State Survey & Certification Memorandum effective immediately in order to clarify its position on texting patient information among health care providers.

Although CMS acknowledges that the use of texting to communicate with other members of a patient’s health care team has become a common and invaluable practice, it acknowledges that such practice risks noncompliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) or Conditions for Coverage (CfCs).  In order to text and comply with the CoPs or CfCs, CMS requires providers to use, maintain, and routinely assess secure, encrypted systems or platforms and minimize the risks to patient privacy and confidentiality per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other requirements under the CoPs or CfCs.

CMS strictly prohibits the texting of patient orders, regardless of the platform utilized.  Alternatively, CMS recommends the use of Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) for such practice.  CPOE is the preferred order method since, with an immediate download into the provider’s electronic health records, the patient order would be properly maintained in the patient’s medical record, as required by the CoPs.

If you have any questions about this memorandum or the implicated CoPs or CfCs, please feel free to contact any member of Drinker Biddle’s Health Care Team.