January 26, 2021 2 min read

Secure-Mail Users: 27

Messages per month: 100+

Professional Users Invited: 79

Patient Users Invited: 499

Virtual care became a priority fast

Patient management changed rapidly for Drumheller Associated Physicians with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When some of their 15 doctors were suddenly required to work from home, administrators needed to find a way to keep them connected with patients to maintain continuity of care and clinic operations.

 Phone calls offered challenges as phone appointments are often hard to fit into a day, because during the pandemic, calls with doctors may have been the only contact people had and conversations tended to be longer than necessary. Video connections also offer challenges for some older patients and those with limited Internet access.

Convenience, flexibility, and compliance

As a clinic that takes privacy very seriously, administrators identified Secure-Mail as right for the job. They appreciated that they can be certain they are communicating with the right patient or professional on the other end (unlike traditional email when people often share accounts). And so Secure-Mail was implemented for e-visits to ease phone traffic and allow physicians to be concise in communications with patients while gaining more freedom in their schedule.

 The remote capability of Secure-Mail means doctors, as well as patients, can connect from anywhere. And as many of the clinic’s physicians needed to work from home in isolation at times, Secure-Mail enabled continuity of care while keeping personal phone lines private. The asynchronous nature of Secure-Mail communication provides physicians, patients, and medical staff with more freedom to focus their day and introduces welcome ‘work from anywhere’ functionality for the first time in medicine.

Clinic Administrator, Sunday Welsh explained, “We have increased technology use in the last year to allow physicians to be able to work outside of the normal office structure. It helps them win back some work life balance.”

 Ms. Welsh further pointed out that many patients prefer to use Secure-Mail because, “they can’t all access phones during the work day and are able to send Secure-Mail messages to the clinic after hours, knowing a reply will come the next day.”

 For certain patients, such as those followed by Gynecology and Obstetrics, after-hours access is critical to their care. Physicians are able to monitor their notifications of new messages when appropriate, or turn off notifications when urgent messages are not expected or they are off call.

Secure-Mail use cases employed by Drumheller Associated Physicians beyond e-visits:

  1. Sending patient charts to other clinics instead of using fax
  2. Connect with locum docs that do not have EMR access
  3. Share information with lawyers
  4. Patient sick notes, or clearance to return to work/school
  5. Forms and consults for disability or benefits claims
  6. Reducing the requirement for in-person visits