Question: Can Veribook be used to message patients and/or facilitate one or two way patient communication?
Summary: From a technical point of view, Veribook incorporates the ability for users to send written messages back-and-forth.
However, we have restricted this functionality for medical clinics because our belief is that a patient messaging system requires very specialized functionality, and that it would be medically and legally irresponsible for us to enable our medical clinic customers to use Veribook for patient messaging.
Alternative: At the moment, we do not have a specific patient portal or patient messaging system that we recommend. Our experience is that, in practice, many clinics will use email, but only once appropriate written patient consent has been obtained.
Example #1: Consent for Outgoing Messages
When it comes to online scheduling, obtaining appropriate patient consent is quite simple since it’s obtained each and every time as part of the actual booking process. If a patient prefers to not book online, they can typically decline to do so and book via other means (e.g. in person or by phone).
It is unfortunately much more complicated to manage the issue of consent for outgoing messages. For example, patients need to be able to give and withdraw their consent and clinics and clinicians need to know who has or has not supplied their consent (and to what degree) prior to sending messages.
Example #2: Shared Access
Our system facilitates individuals scheduling for other individuals in certain situations. At the same time, we continue to allow patients to schedule “privately” in more sensitive situations (e.g. mature minors seeking counselling without the knowledge of their guardians).
Our view is that these issues must be carefully handled within a patient messaging system to ensure patient privacy is simultaneously protected, while enabling a level of shared access appropriate for the circumstances.
Example #3: Integration and Workflow
One of the most significant risks for a patient messaging system is sending a message to the wrong individual. This risk grows exponentially, as clinics grow larger.
Our view is that limiting this risk requires a highly integrated and carefully crafted workflow wherein messages can be initiated from the patient chart directly.
Example #4: Reliable Delivery and Read Receipts
Ensuring reliable delivery and confirming receipt of messages is a key challenge for electronic messages. While one might conclude it is reasonable to presume voicemails are received (and even this is questionable); that same presumption for electronic messages is much weaker given the prevalence of spam filters, typos in email addresses, and so forth.
In our view, a patient messaging system must have robust and reliable means to ensure messages have been received and read.