Electronic Mail Communication
Communication can come in many forms but at its most simplistic stage communication is basically the way two individuals interact with one another. For communication to be effective there must be a sender and a receiver. Modes of communication vary from written to oral, or verbal to nonverbal interactions. In our current age of technology many advancements in communication have evolved from slower methods such as handwritten letters to much faster methods such as texting and email. In the past communication between a provider and a patient could have taken days or even weeks, but with technology advancement communication can now be received within the same day, decreasing wait time for the patient. The following information will examine electronic mail (e-mail) communication as it relates to the provider and consumer, as well as how e-mail communication benefits the patient. Furthermore, information will be provided on how patient confidentiality is maintained, and explain why e-mail is such an effective tool between the provider and patient. In addition, information will be provided on how social networking and media might change communication in healthcare, and how e-mail is utilized to market health care related services and products. The benefit of e-mail communication
E-mail has been available to use for decades and as technology becomes more advanced society is able to access this technology through various devices other than a personal home computer. In our current time more individuals are carrying smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices to access wireless internet data to include e-mail. This type of communication modality offers more opportunities for provider and patient to interact with one another on a more personal level. "Linking patients and physicians through e-mail may increase the involvement of patients in supervising and documenting their own health care, processes that may activate patients and contribute to improved health" (Mandl, Kohane, & Brandt, 1998, p. 495). Other benefits to e-mail consumers have, is this form of communication connects physicians with the consumer increasing the patients access to care. Providers can also utilize e-mail to enhance patient education by providing information electronically right to the patients e-mail in the comforts of their home. Those households that used e-mail to communicate with a provider reported an improvement with provider access as well as an improvement in their quality of care. In addition patients reported a more in-depth explanation of information and a much faster response time compared to more traditional communication methods such as phone calls (Barclay, 2007). This is especially beneficial to those who live far away from medical services. Maintaining patient confidentiality while using e-mail communication
Several decades back when e-mail was in its infancy, universal encryption protocol had not been developed for e-mail communication. To combat the possibilities of someone gaining access to sensitive information, individuals were instructed not to send any valuable information through e-mail. Over the years, as technology has evolved, e-mail has become more secure but hackers have also become more sophisticated at working around these technologies. With the inceptions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), policies and procedures have gone into effect that protect the consumers privacy and confidentiality.
In society today, providers and patients have the ability to send and receive secure encrypted e-mail. Because of internet threats and vulnerability, health care organizations keep their networks secure and maintained on a regular basis. Sending encrypted e-mail alone will not solve problems with lack of confidentiality. Users on both ends must use caution on their...
References: Barclay, L. (2007). Patient-physician email communication may be effective. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/563678
Mandl, K. D., Kohane, I. S., & Brandt, A. M. (1998, September). Electronic patient-physician communication. Annals of Internal Medicine, 129(6), 495-500. Retrieved from http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3382980/Mandl_Electronic.pd f?sequence=1
Rosen, P. (2009). Effective patient-provider email: A pediatrician 's experience. Retrieved from http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov/webevents/index.aspx?id=3
White, C. B., Moyer, C. A., Stern, D. T., & Katz, S. J. (2004, July, August). A content analysis of e-mail communication between patients and their providers: Patients get the message. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 11(4), 260-267. doi:10.1197/jamia.M1445
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