Email & SMS for patient
Current as of: 15TH MAY 2019
Our patients will be given the option of being contacted by electronic means such as via email and/or SMS.
All new and existing patients in the practice will be given an information sheet on our electronic communication policy, and are asked to provide signed consent to agree or disagree to be communicated with in this manner.
It is acknowledged by the practice that consent is implied if the patient initiates electronic communication with the practice.
Reception staffs are to check each patient has this information on their record on arrival to the practice, along with the verification of their name, date of birth and address.
The signed consent will be scanned and recorded in the patient electronic record and their response recorded on the practice software.
The consent form will state that the practice may use this mode of communication:
- to send reminders for a scheduled appointment.
- when the patient needs to make an appointment to review a test result.
- as a reminder that a generic preventative screening test (for example, flu vaccine, skin-check, cervical screening) is due.
Further information will state that the practice:
- cannot guarantee confidentiality of information transferred via email.
- will comply with the Australian Privacy Principles and the Privacy Act 1988.
- communications will not contain sensitive information, due to the risk of confidential information being accessed inadvertently or intentionally by a third party.
- communications will not contain results that only the general practitioner should be divulging in a follow-up appointment, i.e. abnormal results, education concerning a new diagnosis, etc.
- communication will not entail promotion of any product and/or preventative health care (as some patients can interpret this as an advertisement)
Patients will be advised through the consent form that:
- emails will be answered within 24hrs (also included in the automatic email response).
- patients should not use email to contact the practice in an emergency (also included in the automatic email response).
Our practice email account for patients for non-urgent Our practice email account for patients and stakeholders for non-urgent communication with our practice is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This email account will be routinely checked throughout the business day by the practice manager or a delegated practice staff member:
- at the start of business
- one hour before end of business
The email message will then be forwarded to the appropriate team member for response. Communication conducted with a patient via electronic means will be added to the patient’s medical record by the team member resolving the enquiry.
When recalling a patient for a test result, the extent to which patients are followed up will depend on the level of urgency and the clinical significance of their test results. If the patient has not responded to the SMS or email in 24hrs then other forms of communication (phone call, registered mail) should be considered.
Email and SMS between the practice and the patient will form part of the medical record and need to be included, as must any actions taken in response to the message. (Some electronic health record systems can perform this feature automatically.)
The use of the internet as a legitimate business and research tool is both recognised and approved by The Regent Medical Group however, staff and management have a responsibility to ensure that there is no abuse of the resources for private purposes, that staff productivity is not compromised, that offensive material is not spread throughout the organisation and that the practice computer system is protected from the introduction of computer viruses.
All downloads from the internet must be scanned for viruses.
All sites accessed must comply with legal and ethical standards and the practice policies. The internet must never be used to download or access any illegal software or pornographic, defamatory, offensive, share-trading or gambling-related material.
Downloading of material via the internet slows access for other staff. The internet should not be used for downloading music, videos or radio programs, for making personal purchases or accessing interactive social websites, including Facebook, YouTube, Skype and Twitter, except in a professional capacity and approved by the Electronic Communications Officer.
Web browser security settings are not to be changed without authorisation of the practice manager.
The practice will have in place firewalls and intrusion detection systems .
Social media is defined as websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. These include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Social media is not permitted to be used from practice devices in a private capacity by any staff member.
The practice utilises the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) social media policy which can be found on page 13 in the RACGP’s Guide for the use of social media in general practice and can be accessed by clicking the following link (attach to this policy):
The RACGP has additional information on using electronic forms of communication in general practice.
- eHealth – https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/ehealth/
- Standards for general practices (4th edition) – https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/standards/standards4thedition/
- Standards for general practices (5th edition) -https://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/Standards/5th%20Edition/racgp-standards-for-general-practices-5th-edition.pdf