Doctors use email, WhatsApp, SMS to communicate with their patients. With serious security and privacy risks, dispersing these messages outside of the EMR.
This is a widespread phenomenon, as recently highlighted by the annual report of the Digital Innovation in Health Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, which notes that 85% of General Practitioners and 81% of medical specialists use e-mail to send communications to patients, while WhatsApp is used by 64% of the former and 57% of the latter to schedule or move appointments and to share documents or clinical information.
Fewer than one in five citizens, on the other hand, use email or WhatsApp to communicate with their doctor.
While email, WhatsApp and SMS are now very popular tools used by many people, doctors and patients seem to ignore the high level of risk they pose, both in terms of IT security and privacy.
Exchanging sensitive data in this way is contrary to the rules and recommendations of the GDPR.
However, it must be said that, to date, medical-patient communication is not, with rare exceptions, a function that electronic medical records have. There are still few and often limited patient apps integrated into EMR.
Yet the need to communicate is very strong and using email, WhatsApp and SMS to satisfy it is not only incorrect, but also inefficient. In this way, the messages exchanged with the patient, which may be important, are outside the EMR. If I have to reconstruct a patient’s story, I will be forced to search in two, three or four different applications, in the hope of finding all the information.
It’s time to solve this problem. Doctor-patient communication must go through the EMR!