JCAHO Issues Ban on Physician Texting, Signifies Importance of Secure Mobile Communication Outside SMS

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) recently issued a so-called “ban” on physician texting, saying it’s “not acceptable” for medical professionals to communicate patient information via SMS.

In dealing with sensitive medical information, physicians risk violating HIPAA regulations and other security standards by communicating with patients over SMS.  Such violations can be costly and can lead to other repercussions for both the physician and the healthcare organization(s) they represent.  The JCAHO recognized this risk and used it as the basis for its ban on physician texting.  While many in the industry are seeing this as a warning sign to stop mobile communication altogether, it’s actually a step in the right direction to push physicians and healthcare organizations to begin leveraging new-age, fully secure forms of mobile communication.

SMS is a communication channel that can never become secure, which means it can never become HIPAA-compliant and thus viable as a communication channel within the healthcare industry.  Mobile apps, however, can become HIPAA-compliant while also allowing for the same — and many times better — level of communication between physicians, healthcare organizations and patients.  By moving a conversation out of the SMS app on users’ phones to a separate mobile app, you have the ability to create a truly secure mobile conversation that doesn’t carry any of the risks associated with SMS.

By communicating with users via mobile apps, healthcare organizations have the ability to send rich text content such as videos and don’t have to deal with the character limitations imposed by SMS.  In addition, through fully encrypted messaging, highly relevant conversations are made possible — ones that can include highly sensitive and personal medical information that’s unique to each user.  By increasing the relevance of your messaging, you increase the ability to influence users, which is beneficial to users and healthcare organizations alike.