Current as of: April 2023
COMMUNICATION WITH PATIENTS BY ELECTRONIC MEANS.
Our practice is mindful that even though patients have provided electronic contact details, they may not be proficient in communicating via electronic means and patient consent needs to be obtained before engaging in electronic communication. Electronic communication includes email, facsimile and Short Message Service (SMS).
Communication with patients via electronic means is conducted with appropriate regard to privacy.
Please note that it is our policy to limit any electronic communication which includes confidential clinical information about a patient. If we do then this communication or email is limited to non-clinical information communication which may include such information as health prevention information or appointment information or changes. You may choose to send information via email, but we will not respond regarding any clinical information.
The Practice follows the RACGP recommendations to reduce the risk of interception of data and sending emails to incorrect addresses, including:
- Verification of patients email address
- Obtaining patient consent
- Use of secure messaging facilities between practices where available, via Medical Objects or encrypted emails.
Our practice’s primary reason for communicating electronically to patients is to issue appointment reminders or recalls or to disseminate health prevention information and we verify the correct contact details of the patient at the time of the appointment being made.
Our email address is email@example.com . You can use this email address to communicate with our practice subject to the warnings discussed below.
WARNING REGARDING THE SECURITY OF EMAIL COMMUNICATIONS:
Please note that our email service is not encrypted, and therefore we cannot guarantee the security of our email communications.
There is a risk that emails and/or attachments could be read by someone other than the intended recipient (for example, as a result of widespread hacking, or because someone accesses your email account).
For this reason, we discourage health providers from sending emails to us with personal information about the patients unless encrypted, and we discourage patients from sending emails to us with their own personal information.
We prefer to receive correspondence from other health practitioners via secure messaging such as Healthlink and Medical Objects.
However, in certain circumstances we may agree to email the patient with a response to a query and/or information or documentation that they have requested which DOES include their health information following the procedure documented:
When sending an email at the patients request the procedure is:
- Call Patient and obtain 3-point Check, DOB/First Name/Family Name.
- Advise email is not encrypted
- Send an email with no documents attached to confirm Patients correct email address.
- Patients REPLY to this Initial email to verify identity and email address and CONSENT to proceed with email accepting risks associated with email communications.
- Upon receiving patient consent , print the email to PDF format and upload to patient file
- Email is then sent with disclaimer notice attached as documented.
- The practice should maintain a record of information sent via email to the patient in accordance with the email policy.
All members of the practice team are made aware of our policy regarding electronic communication with patients during induction, and are reminded of this policy on an ongoing basis. They are made aware that electronic communications could be forwarded, intercepted, printed and stored by others. Each member of the practice team holds full accountability for emails sent in their name or held in their mailbox, and they are expected to utilise this communication tool in an acceptable manner.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Limiting the exchange of personal emails
- Refraining from responding to unsolicited or unwanted emails
- Deleting hoaxes or chain emails
- Email attachments from unknown senders are not to be opened
- Virus checking all email attachments
- Maintaining appropriate language within electronic communications
- Ensuring any personal opinions are clearly indicated as such, and
- Confidential information (e.g. patient information) must be encrypted.
Our practice reserves the right to check an individual’s email accounts as a precaution to fraud, viruses, workplace harassment or breaches of confidence by members of the practice team. Inappropriate use of the email facility will be fully investigated and may be grounds for dismissal.
The practice uses an email disclaimer notice on outgoing emails that are affiliated with the practice stating:
UNINTENDED RECIPIENT: This email and any attachments are confidential, and may be subject to legal or other professional privilege or copyright. You should not read, copy, use or disclose them without authorisation. If you are not the intended recipient any confidentiality or privilege is not waived. Please notify us by return email at your convenience and permanently delete both messages. Thank you for your assistance.