Guidelines Issued For Online Doctor-Patient Communications

Consortium's rules are designed to maximize security and quality of care.
A consortium that includes the American Medical Association and medical insurance companies has set guidelines for doctor-patient communications using E-mail designed to maximize security and quality of medical care.

The eRisk Working Group for Healthcare guidelines mandate that substantive patient-physician E-mail should occur solely where there is a pre-existing relationship. State boards have taken recent action against so-called online "doc-in-a-box" services, through which doctors provide online care and prescribe medication for patients they've never seen.

The eRisk Working Group for Healthcare includes leading national medical societies and liability carriers representing more than 70% of insured physicians.

Other new guidelines include a warning against active solicitation of highly sensitive information when communicating with patients online, and emphasis on the need for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance. Doctors should avoid using standard E-mail for patient communications; instead, the guidelines suggest they should use secure online messaging with authentication and encryption.

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