The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has clarified its position on text messaging patient information between and among healthcare providers. In early December, CMS previously advised several hospitals that the texting of patient information was strictly prohibited, even if the provider used a secure texting platform.

On December 28, 2017 CMS clarified its position in a memorandum released to state survey agencies advising that while texting patient orders is still prohibited regardless of the texting platform, healthcare providers and suppliers are allowed to text patient information that does not include orders through a secure platform. CMS states in its December 28 Memorandum:

In an effort to clarify the position of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as it relates to texting, CMS does not permit the texting of orders by physicians or other healthcare providers. The practice of texting orders from a provider to a member of the care team is not in compliance with the conditions of participation (CoPs) or conditions for coverage (CfCs).

CMS goes on to state in its Memorandum that computerized provider order entry is the “preferred method of order entry by a provider.”

Based on CMS’s latest clarification, the rules with respect to texting patient information are as follows:

  • Text messaging among and between healthcare providers of protected patient health information is permissible if accomplished through a secure platform.
  • However, text messaging of patient orders is strictly prohibited regardless of the text messaging platform utilized.

This CMS clarification regarding text messaging and patient information should prompt providers and suppliers to review their existing policies and procedures to determine whether or not those policies and procedures are in compliance with CMS’s latest guidance.

Click here to review CMS Memorandum in its entirety.