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  • How Dana-Farber Uses Email to Connect with Patients and Families

    Guidance for patients and clinicians on use of email

    1. If a clinician and a patient agree to communicate by electronic mail, they should be aware that:
      • Others besides the addressee may process messages during addressee's usual business hours, or during addressee's vacation or illness
      • Email can occasionally be sent to the wrong party
      • Email can be accessed from various locations
      • Information may be sent via email to other care providers
      • The Internet does not typically provide a secure media for transporting confidential information unless both parties are using encryption technologies.
      • Automatic forwarding of email is allowed within the harvard.edu and Partners.org community. Messages can, however, be forwarded to another recipient at the sender's discretion.
    2. Clinical interactions conducted by email which a clinician believes should be part of the medical record should be stored in the patient's electronic or paper medical record.
    3. If the health information/treatment includes sensitive information, the patient and clinician should decide whether this information may be referenced in email, or should not be shared. Such information might include references to HIV status, substance abuse, sexually-transmitted diseases, sexual assault, abortion, domestic violence, or confidential details of treatment with a psychotherapist, psychologist or social worker.
    4. The category of transaction, e.g., status, appointment, should be in the subject line of a message so that clinicians can more easily sort and prioritize their emails.
    5. When possible, clinicians and patients may choose to use a Read Receipt in order to acknowledge that they have read the message that was sent.
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