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Emailing with Patient's Family Members ok? / Comment on Encrypted Emails

            October 28, 2014
Question:

Dear Jennifer,
 
Thank you so much for your helpful tips. I find the advice your provide very helpful to my practice. Along the same lines of emails, is it also safe to say that we can communicate via email with family members of patients- health care proxies of course but also next of kin such as children, etc. I practice in a primarily geriatric rehab center and I have quite a few family members that request to communicate via email. I may not always have the chance to ask the patients specifically, but is that also considered permissible?
 
Thank you so much for your input.
 
Sincerely,
Dr. S

Answer:

Dr. S, you should not communicate by email with any unauthorized party – so only legal guardians or individuals the patient has consented to you communicating with.  Further, you should not communicate by email with any authorized person unless you have confirmed the correct email address!  Be sure you know who you are talking to if you are communicating by email and you have the patient's written consent, or legal guardian's consent and confirmation of email address.  Remember, once an email goes out, you ave created a permanent and discoverable record!   
 
I recommend you be strict on this policy. 

**************************************

Provided by Dennis Allen of Emax Medical Billing - 


Hi Jennifer,

I would like to offer an amendment to Jay Bedovoy’s comments and an addition to the list of potential encrypted email providers:

While Mr. Bedovoy is not technically wrong about Citrix ShareFile, he may have overlooked its integration with Microsoft Outlook. Citrix ShareFile provides an easy-to use button in the Outlook toolbar that allows you to send an encrypted file—just click the button and select the file. Our staff finds it very easy to use when communicating with the medical professionals we serve.

Also worth considering is Microsoft Office 365 email encryption, which is somewhat similar to the offering from ZixCorp. The encryption is included at no extra charge with some of the Office 365 enterprise plans, and it is available as an add-on called “Azure Rights Management” ($2 per user/month) for smaller plans. And yes, Microsoft does provide a business associate agreement. http://products.office.com/en-us/business/office

Thank you for your newsletter. 
  --Dennis

Dennis Allen, CHBME
Dennis@EmaxMedicalBilling.com
603-924-7797 x501
Emax Medical Billing LLC
www.EmaxMedicalBilling.com
Toll-Free: (877) 924-7797

The information contained in this comment is Dennis' opinion and is not the opinion of K&K, nor has the information contained been independently confirmed.  K&K (and Jennifer) recommends all readers perform their own due diligence before selecting an encryption method.  
 
 

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