Electronic Messaging Systems

Written by Norene Anderson
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Electronic messaging systems are rapidly becoming the method of choice for many physicians. They use e-mail for a variety of functions including patient education and follow-up for treatment plans. This is a convenient method of communication for the physician and the patient. It allows for personal interaction without the necessity of making an office visit.

There are some serious potential problems with transferring confidential information via electronic messaging systems. HIPAA standards for patient confidentiality requires specific measures be taken to ensure that no information regarding any patient can be obtained by anyone other than those authorized by the patient. This requires the information transmitted electronically be secure from any third party interception. It is imperative that the physicians have some type of encryption software to scramble the message until the patient receives it.

Electronic Messaging Systems Offer Quick Communication

There should be a clear understanding between physician and patient about the possible invasion of privacy during the process of using electronic messaging. This discussion should include any topics not appropriate in an email correspondence. The patient must understand the need for a record of all correspondence, including email, to become a part of the permanent record and possibly viewed by third parties.

Security is a real issue in electronic messaging systems. Many companies are providing solutions for confidentiality. As the technology continues to advance, more physicians will become comfortable using this great method of communication. Before sharing any kind of personal information online, make sure encryption is available for all data transmission. For more information about security online, check out the resources on the Internet.


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