What you need to know to keep your practice and patients protected
Whether you are a healthcare facility, solo doctor or nurse, your medical practice should have a policy in place for electronic communication with patients. This ensures that your staff is being consistent and protected. Tego Insurance specialises in medical indemnity insurance in Australia, as well as medical practice insurance and we are focused on protecting you against improper social media use.
Your SMS and email policy should cover:
- How patient consent is obtained and documented
- Verification that the patient’s email address/mobile number are both accurate and up to date.
- Who is authorised to send/receive and respond to SMS and email.
- How electronic messages are dealt with if a recipient is absent.
- What type of information can be included in an SMS or email.
Obtaining your patient’s consent is imperative
This can easily be accomplished by including a question in the patient registration form, on-line appointment or registration portal. The question must be specific and direct, seeking the patient’s consent to use SMS for appointment reminders and recalls.
You can also design a more comprehensive consent form covering a variety of options in regards to any electronic communication. Having them read this form and then signing it is an excellent way to protect your organization. After you receive their signature proving their consent, then take the next step and discuss with them what your policy is and how your process works. All these steps will help immensely in safeguarding you against any misunderstanding.
Some important safeguards in regards to your medical indemnity insurance
- Your SMS or emails should not divulge sensitive health information (e.g. a test result) unless the patient has provided full consent.
- Emails are only safeguarded against unauthorised access if both parties have the appropriate encryption programs on their computer. Patients must be aware that the practice cannot guarantee confidentiality of information transferred via email.
- With appropriate consent, an SMS or email can be used to effectively communicate:
- A reminder for a scheduled appointment (time and date)
- The need for a patient to make an appointment to review a test result.
- A reminder that a generic preventative screening test (flu vaccine, skin check, pap smear) is due.
- Email and SMS messages should be part of the patient’s medical record
Tego Insurance offers medical Indemnity insurance for medical practitioners underwritten by Berkshire Hathaway, a brand globally synonymous with trust and integrity. 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.
Eric is the CEO of Tego, an insurance agency offering specialist indemnity insurance solutions for the healthcare and life sciences sectors. His qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in business and law, a master’s degree from UNSW in law and management and an MBA from the AGSM.