Why do you need secure electronic messaging in your healthcare practice? Take a look below as we give quick facts about messaging in healthcare, as well as address some questions and concerns providers frequently have. Information is provided by a joint initiative of HealthIT.gov and the National Learning Consortium.
Secure electronic messaging can play an important role in improving patient access to health care providers. It also helps patients who want to be better informed and more active members of their care team.
Secure messaging can be convenient for handling routine nonclinical tasks such as medication refills and referrals.
Evidence from a number of practices indicates that offering secure messaging contributes to patient satisfaction with care.
“Patients really like secure messaging. They feel it is a more personal way to communicate with their doctor directly online rather than having a phone message go through the nurse or staff.” — Primary care physician
Secure messaging provides an easy way for patients to communicate with their providers between visits. Benefits include:
Secure messaging can be convenient, cost-effective, and efficient for providers.Benefits include:
Providers may have concerns about introducing secure messaging into their practice.
Rather than being flooded with messages, some studies find that call volume decreases when secure messaging is introduced. Providers also appreciate being able to respond to patients at their convenience.
Time spent communicating through secure messaging often replaces time spent on less efficient telephone calls.
While not all patients will have computer access or feel comfortable using secure messaging, practices that actively promote secure messaging have had success with patient adoption. When patients understand the value of secure messaging, such as being able to reach their provider more easily, they are more likely to try it.
“Rather than being inundated with messages, providers actually experience increased productivity according to a number of evaluations.” — Wakefield et al., 2010
Studies show that in the majority of cases patients use secure messaging appropriately to address non-urgent health issues, such as questions about lab results or medications.
Liability considerations are similar to other forms of communication, such as telephone, mail, and paper records.
Emont, S. (2011). Measuring the impact of patient portals: What the literature tells us. https://www.chcf.org/publication/measuring-the-impact-of-patient-portals-what-the-literature-tells-us/
Wakefield, D.S., Mehr, D., Keplinger, L., Canfield, S., Gopidi, R., Wakefield, B.J. … Kochendorfer, K.M. (2010). Issues and questions to consider in implementing secure electronic patient–provider web portal communications systems. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 79(7), 469–477. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1386505610000948 Zhou, Y.Y., Kanter, M.H., Wang, J.J., & Garrido, T. (2010). Improved quality at Kaiser Permanente through e-mail between physicians and patients. Health Affairs, 29(7), 1370–1375. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/29/7/1370.full.pdf+html
Electronic Health Records in Action: Stories of Meaningful Use Patient Portal Increases Communication Between Patients and Providers (Spring 2011) Patient Portal Implementation Improves Quality of Patient Care and Strengthens Preventive Care (Spring 2011) Patient Portal Benefits Patient Care and Provider Workflow (Winter 2011) Viewing Patients as Partners: Patient Portal Implementation and Adoption (Winter 2011) (Available at www.HealthIT.gov)