Doctors and Healthcare Professionals Should Beware of Electronic Communication

There is a tremendous surge in the use of SMS and emails for healthcare professionals, especially with patient reminders and recalls. This is more than a trend, as it is changing the way healthcare is provided. The reason? There are a variety of factors from patient preference, technological efficiencies to the increased cost and delays with our postal system. With this increase of use comes new standards of practice for communicating with your patients. 

RACGP Guidelines

“The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practice acknowledge that patients are able to obtain advice or information related to their clinical care by telephone or electronic means where the doctor determines that it is clinically safe and that a face-to-face consultation is unnecessary.” To learn more, visit RACGP.

As your medical indemnity insurance provider you need to know the facts. 

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Below is guidance on the standards provided to healthcare professionals:

  • Obtain and document patient consent before health information is communicated by email or SMS.
  • Confirm a patient’s identification and verify the patient’s contact details before any information is sent.
  • Consider whether it is appropriate to communicate particular information by electronic means or whether other methods would be more suitable (e.g. for sensitive information such as HIV status or pregnancy results this mode would not be suitable).
  • Conduct all communication with a specific focus on privacy and confidentiality considerations
  • Have a documented process for ensuring that electronic messages from patients are recorded and given to the person for whom they are intended on the day of receipt, or in that person’s absence, to the person who is providing cover.”

Please refer to RACGP for more details.

Tego Insurance to the rescue with medical practice insurance and medical malpractice insurance

The legal team at Tego Insurance are at the ready to help you understand the restrictions and standard practices for electronic communication. With the laws changing and the need to protect a patient’s private information becoming more and more difficult, it is essential that you understand what you can and can not do in regards to texting and emailing your patients. 

Tego offers medical indemnity insurance for medical practitioners. We have a profound understanding of the Australian medical profession and the ever-changing healthcare industry. It’s this expertise that allows us to provide leading cover with more choice, innovation and greater flexibility. Contact us to find out more.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss su­ffered in connection with the use of this information.