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The Doctors Company Provides Tips for Physicians to Minimize Risk While Practicing Medicine by Phone or E-mail
Date:1/21/2009

confidentiality. Conduct online communications with patients over a secure network that contains encryption technology. Standard e-mail services don't meet HIPAA requirements.
  • Obtain informed consent. Be sure your patient signs an informed-consent form before initiating online communications. The consent form should list the appropriate use and limitation of online communications.
  • Limit online communications to existing patients. Online communications of any kind are best suited for patients previously seen and evaluated in an office setting. Initiating a physician-patient relationship online may increase liability exposure.
  • Pick up the phone. If you cross e-mails with another party two or three times, or if there is an emotionally charged issue involved in what you want to communicate, stop e-mailing and place a phone call instead.
  • The Doctors Company is a member of the eRisk Working Group for Healthcare and helped to develop guidelines for health care providers on the use of online communications. For more information on the guidelines, physicians should visit www.medem.com/phy/phy_eriskguidelines.cfm.

    About The Doctors Company:
    Founded by doctors for doctors in 1976, The Doctors Company (www.thedoctors.com) is relentlessly committed to advancing, protecting, and rewarding the practice of good medicine. The Doctors Company is the largest national insurer of physician and surgeon medical liability with 44,000 member physicians, $3 billion in assets, and an A rating by Fitch Ratings.

    Media Contact:
    Suzanne Meraz
    (707) 226-0261
    smeraz (at) thedoctors (dot) com

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