Virtual Care Tool Comparison: WhatsApp vs. Secure-Mail

March 23, 2020

Virtual Care Tool Comparison: WhatsApp vs. Secure-Mail

WhatsApp compared to Secure-Mail as a virtual care platform

Introduction:

WhatsApp is a popular free communication tool around the world. It is used by many to exchange text messages, voice/video calls, and small files with friends near and far. It can be used with anyone that has a mobile phone number, and requires the installation of the app on a mobile device. There is a web version that can launch your account on a computer but it does not offer voice or video calling.

Comparatively, Secure-Mail medical-grade email is built to work on any device with full functionality - all you need is an email address. While it does not currently offer video or voice communication, there is no app to install, so you and your patients are always using the most secure version. 

 

Integration:

WhatsApp has no integration into patient records management softwares.

Brightsquid Secure-Mail can send and receive messages directly with Telus HEALTH EMRs through an integration with Telus MedDialog. 


Encryption:

WhatsApp does come standard with encryption, but it is important to remember that encryption is only one requirement of privacy compliance. Even encrypted messages transmitted over the Internet can be intercepted and decrypted. Compliance requires the ability to audit who accessed the data. Sending messages over the open Internet does not provide that level of certainty.


Secure-Mail keeps patient data safe inside a secure and compliant server that does not send information across the open internet.


Collaboration:

WhatsApp offers group messaging which could be used for communication with members of a care team. 

Secure-Mail messages can be sent to as many team members as necessary. Much like copying people on an email. You can invite anyone to have their own free Secure-Mail account. So no matter who you need to connect with, Brightsquid can facilitate.


Clinical file sharing:

Attachments through WhatsApp are limited to 16MB.

With your Secure-Mail account, you can attach as many files per message as you need. Up to 500MB per file. There is no limit to the amount of storage you get with your Secure-Mail account.


Features for clinics:

WhatsApp does indicate if a message has been read. There is no functionality that supports message recall.

Secure-Mail has several features built for clinic communication with patients and other providers: 

  • Shared inbox allows clinic staff to jointly monitor and triage incoming messages. 
  • Read receipts show if and when a message was read. 
  • Message recall allows you to remove any message and its attachments from all recipients. 

Privacy compliance:

The use of WhatApp does not comply with privacy regulations that protect patient information in the USA, Canada, and Europe. Using WhatsApp to communicate with patients risks privacy breach and regulatory sanctions.

Using Secure-Mail to share patient information and conduct virtual care is compliant with privacy regulations that protect patient information in the USA, Canada, and Europe. 


Fee-for-service Reimbursements:

WhatsApp does not qualify for reimbursement.

Secure-Mail does qualify for reimbursement where codes for secure email exist.

In Alberta Secure-Mail can be used for codes: 03.01S, 03.01AD, 03.01O, 03.01R



Is WhatsApp appropriate for virtual care?

Although it is a popular communication platform, WhatsApp was not built to support clinical communications and does not meet regulatory requirements for the transmission of patient data. It will not provide you with functionality specific to your needs as a healthcare provider.

Secure-Mail was purpose built for clinic communication with input from clinicians and staff along the way. It was created on a platform that is proven to be compliant and facilitates communication with anyone at any time, from anywhere.

Request a free Secure-Mail account for your medical clinic:

From now until July 31, 2020, medical clinics in Canada can get full Secure-Mail for free. Request your free account here: 

https://brightsquid.com/pages/virtual-care-for-covid-19


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