Electronic Communication Policy
We recognise that electronic communication via email, text and websites can provide a reliable, speedy and convenient point of access for patients and we would like to provide secure and confidential means of electronic communication where appropriate within the administrative resources available to the Practice.
This is suitable for administrative, non-complex matters. The Practice does not offer email consultations. We may use our generic no-reply address to communicate with patients as below.
- Appointment scheduling such as reminders for routine reviews from the Practice rather than sending letters.
- Forwarding clinical correspondence, x-ray and blood forms requested by patients.
- Communicating test results as an alternative to letters.
- Allow us to forward clinical correspondence, x-ray and blood forms requested by patients.
- Forwarding information and links for self-management purposes
It is not to be used by patients or clinicians for
- Urgent queries or requests
- To routinely discuss clinical problems as a substitute or alternative to face to face or telephone consultations including the unscheduled and unsolicited communication of clinical queries or concerns by patients.
- Communicating sensitive or complex messages.
- On going two-way clinical communication
- Any form of on-line consultation process
- Bypassing standard Practice services and their normal procedures
In the event the Practice feels a patient is using email excessively, inappropriately or unsafely or placing unreasonable demands on the Practice and thus jeopardising patient care, we reserve the right to withdraw this option. We will write to you requesting you no longer use email to communicate with the Practice and giving the reasons why we have taken this decision.
If a patient continues to use email inappropriately and unsafely despite this request it may result in the patient being removed from the Practice list as a last resort.
Online communication Via our website
We have a lot of useful information on our website to support patients and signpost them to useful resources. We also have several contact forms to facilitate the following services
- Patients communicating pre-agreed feedback with their doctor i.e., where they would like to be referred or response to treatment i.e., forward home blood pressure readings.
- Ordering repeat prescriptions, though we encourage patients to order prescriptions via online EMIS access, as this is a more streamlined process, and we can action their request more quickly.
- Request advice from a doctor
- Medication queries which cannot be dealt with by your community pharmacist.
- Requesting Medical Certificates
- Requests for reports, these will be reviewed, and we will decide if we can comply.
- Queries regarding test results
- Queries regarding referrals where you have already followed the usual routes to contact your hospital team or community service.
We have limited capacity to deal with electronic communication from patients. So, we have also placed restriction on the times when requests can be submitted to allow our staff time to process incoming requests in a timely and safe manner. In view of this we also request that patients do not use this route in an excessive manner. If we think this has become the case, we will contact you and explain why we think this is the case and ask you to stop. As a final resort we may block this route or ask you to register elsewhere.
The Practice uses NHS mail, which is a secure network. Patients should only contact the Practice via the generic Practice email address (email@example.com) for approved matters as outlined above.
Patients will only receive communication via the Practice ‘noreply’ email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Practice email. Please ensure to add these email addresses to your contacts so you don’t miss messages, which have gone to your ‘junk’ mailbox.
NHS.net can send email securely to non-NHS addresses. However uunless messages are encrypted, someone else could potentially read your messages if your email account is hacked or you have shared access to the email account. As a consequence the Practice cannot take responsibility for the confidentiality of messages sent. Patients should consider what information they are willing to receive to their email accounts. There is an option to have all email messages encrypted.
This PDF guide explains what is involved what can also be sent to you.
SMS Text Messaging
The Practice uses Chain SMS and iPlato software to send text messages to patients for a range of purposes including recall, care plans, patient information and delivering test results. Text messaging does not allow for two-way communication and lends itself to more generic communication. The following are examples of when it may be appropriate to use text.
- Administrative information e.g. prescription or letter ready to collect
- Care plan sent in a consultation e.g. dosing of new medication
- Recall e.g. advising the patient to book an appointment
- Advice and safety netting sent in a consultation e.g. link to NHS Choices information or MSK exercise videos
- Signposting to third-party services in a consultation e.g. exercise classes or community psychology service.
- Updates e.g., we tried to call but could not reach you, or to let you know a clinician will be calling, or to give you some other important update regarding your care.
- Reminders e.g., for cervical screening or overdue blood tests
- Invitations for immunisations e.g. flu
- Information that a clinician has agreed in advance with an individual that can be sent via text message. Usually these are around specific circumstances and consent will be taken on those occasions by the clinician in advance.
- Communication regarding test results where this has been agreed with a patient.
- Blood pressure checks due, inviting patient to use the POD in the waiting room.
Consent and Keeping Your Information Up to Date
We will record your consent at the time you register. You can withdraw it at any time. Please let us know if your mobile phone number or email address change, as we want to keep your data safe and don’t want to bother you.
Your Medical Records
All communication between the Practice and yourself sent by text or sent and received by email will be recorded verbatim or indicated in summary in your medical records.