Your success hinges on your reputation. Patients remain loyal, or refer your clinic, because of how they feel about the care you provide. They want to feel they’re receiving the most appropriate care, and they want to feel that you have their best interests at heart. The way you communicate with patients can significantly influence their feelings in both categories.
By using secure-mail to keep patients and colleagues informed, you can strengthen and protect your reputation because you A: Are able to more quickly inform patients about their care so they see you as a thorough practitioner (plus, as we know, more informed patients are more satisfied), and B: demonstrate your commitment to protecting patient privacy – a concern more and more important to everyone. In fact, 43% of Canadians surveyed said they would travel outside of their community for care they perceive to deliver more reliable confidentiality.
The idea behind secure-mail services is that you can share information in a way that is very similar to the user experience of email – data is shared via text or attachment, there’s a compose, reply, and forward button, you have a contact list, and notification usually arrives in the inbox of your regular email. Unlike traditional email, secure-mail services protect the privacy of the information contained within the message; establishing confidentiality and eliminating the threat of a privacy breach.
The way secure-mail builds in compliance and protects privacy is by keeping the patient specific information that you exchange from transiting the public Internet – where it can easily be intercepted and read by unintended and unauthorized recipients. Messages are stored in a central location that senders and receivers login to using a web browser (such as Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome) so that they can securely access the information shared with them.
The similarity to email is no accident. Everyone already knows how to use email, so implementing this technology into your office is effortless. More importantly, text-based email-like exchanges are preferred by patients and colleagues over phone, fax, and mail for ease of use, accessibility and tracking of information, and the fact that communication doesn’t require alignment of schedules. For you, it saves time and money associated with calling, faxing, and mailing or sending files via courier.
You’re breaking the law if you send any patient identifying information via regular email, even if the message is encrypted and you have patient consent. The myth that encryption is sufficient protection is a dangerous one. While encryption is an important part of compliance, chain of custody is just as critical. You need to be able to show exactly who had access to the information contained within the message. As traditional email sends messages over the open Internet through an untraceable network of unknown servers, there is no way to track who intercepted or accessed the information in transit, and there is no real authentication of recipient on the receiving end. What if the email address was off by one letter?
Secure-mail mimics very closely how people choose to communicate. If you don’t give patients that choice, hearing of another clinic that will, might be the impetus for change (even if it’s 50km down the road).
The more in touch with patients you are, the better attached they are to your practice and the more satisfied they are with your service. The easier it is for them to contact you, the less likely they are to reach out to a competitor.
It used to be that people had one phone number and they answered it reliably. Now, everyone has multiple phone numbers and they all ring through to voicemail that is seldom checked. However, we all pick up our ‘phone’ when an email notification bings.
Functionally, when you replace more labour and consumable intensive forms of communication like phone, fax, and mail with secure-mail, your office becomes more efficient and effective. Costs go down because you’re attaching digital files instead of printing and mailing them. Productivity goes up because staff can send a secure-mail message with all relevant information instead of making repeated attempts to get the right person on the phone.
Be known as the fast, responsive clinic that cares.
The use of secure-mail strengthens your reputation by demonstrating your commitment to protecting patient privacy while also expediting treatment and care with accelerated exchange of information. You give patients stories to tell about how much more quickly their dentist responds to questions, addresses concerns, or conducts follow up. And, they’ll tell others that you take proactive steps to protect patient privacy – unlike those other guys across town putting patients at risk by sharing private data over insecure email.
As an added bonus, you’ll reduce the amount of time staff spend on administrative tasks like sending faxes or assembling and addressing snail mail packages and redirect those efforts on more patient centric activities that enhance relationships.
Secure-mail is not a peripheral fad. This is how people communicate, and it’s how you can make sure more people are confidentially communicating with you.