Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
July 10, 2018
I was disappointed in the last newsletter you did not address text and email. Most patients are looking for that type of access and I am reluctant to give in. If I do relent during these summer months to partake, what should I be wary of?
Thanks, Dr. V
Sorry for not addressing in the prior. The same comment to modality of communication applies - you can absolutely use your phone for text and email with patients - not prohibited - but again, be careful. A phone is a very easy device to lose. You are responsible for protection patient information and utilizing a mobile unsecured device will most certainly be viewed as irresponsible and punishable by OCR, if you lose your phone or it is accessed. Make sure your phone is password protected, remote swipe is enabled, etc etc. Protect your device and yourself.
A major concern I have with allowing patients into your phone is controlling access and expectation. Your phone is a 24 hour device and not an apparatus patients should have an expectation is usable for emergencies. Make sure you have an automated message attending each incoming message that clearly states you may not respond or be accessible by text or email, and in the event of an emergency 911 should be contacted or other source of assistance.
While your phone is not a restricted device for communication - text and email is also not necessarily secure because you are not really sure who is seeing responses generated. I generally prefer to discourage clients from engaging in any patient communications by text message especially.
And, please please please do NOT engage in text or email exchanges with patients that have no IN WRITING provided you confirmation you may contact them in that capacity AND have confirmed their "handle".
My preference - Put up a "gone fishin" sign and enjoy your time away! Skip the headache.