Are you considering eCommunication?

April 12, 2019 - Kayla Little, Practicum Student, Saskatchewan Polytechnic - Health Information Management

Many might associate the term eCommunication with a smartphone or laptop, but the term goes beyond your everyday communication devices. eCommunication, or electronic communication, is a continuously growing method of communicating between individuals. In healthcare, eCommunications tools are emerging to assist trustees in managing patients’ healthcare by communicating with patients and other healthcare providers. Some eCommunication tools that are being utilized by trustees include email, text and picture messaging, video conferencing, mobile applications (apps), social media and patient portals.

Trustees are responsible for assessing the risks associated with utilizing eCommunication tools for communicating PHI and ensure appropriate safeguards are implemented to protect PHI and ensure compliance with The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA). Privacy risks associated with the use of eCommunication tools are appearing in the media, including instances where a urologist in British Columbia used their personal mobile device to take a photo of a patient and sent the photo to a third party through picture messaging and concerns about popular medication apps sharing users PHI with third parties.

The term eCommunication and the capabilities of eCommunication tools will continue to grow with the advancement of technology and in turn, the number of trustees that utilize these tools and the actions they take with these tools will increase. However, trustees need to ensure they consider the risks associated with using eCommunication to communicate PHI and take steps to ensure the information is appropriately safeguarded in compliance with HIPA.

For guidance on what trustees should consider when using eCommunications, refer to our resource: eCommunication: Considerations for trustees to protect personal health information when using eCommunication.

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