Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Electronic Communication in Online Counseling
Among general electronic communication in online counseling (email, texts, chat, webcam etc.) risks are the following:
Electronic communication can immediately broadcast worldwide and be received by many intended and unintended recipients.
- Recipients can forward electronic communication messages to other recipients without the original sender’s permission or knowledge.
- Users can easily misaddress an electronic communication.
- Electronic communication is easier to falsify than handwritten or signed documents.
- Backup copies of electronic communication may exist even after the sender or the recipient has deleted his or her copy.
Conditions for the Use of Electronic Communication
It is the policy that Open Mind Counseling will make all electronic communication messages sent or received via online counseling that concern the diagnosis or treatment of a client part of that patient’s medical record and will treat such electronic communication messages with the same degree of confidentiality as afforded other portions of the medical record. Open Mind Counseling will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of electronic communication information. Because of the risks outlined above, Open Mind Counseling cannot, however, guarantee the security and confidentiality of electronic communication.
Thus, clients must consent to the use of electronic communication for confidential medical information after having been informed of the above risk. Consent to the use of electronic communication includes agreement with the following conditions:
- All electronic communications to or from the patient concerning the diagnosis and/or treatment will be made part of the client’s medical record. Also part of the medical record, other individuals, such as other physicians, nurses, physical therapists, patient accounts personnel, and the like, and other entities, such as other healthcare providers and insurers, will have access to electronic communication messages contained in medical records if so consented by client.
- Open Mind Counseling may forward electronic communication messages within the facility as necessary diagnosis, treatment, and reimbursement. Open Mind Counseling will not, however, forward the electronic communication message outside the facility without the consent of the client or as required by law.
- If the client sends an electronic communication to Open Mind Counseling , one of its counselors, another healthcare provider, or an administrative department, Open Mind Counseling will endeavor to read the electronic communication promptly and respond promptly, if warranted. However, Open Mind Counseling can provide no assurance that the recipient of a particular electronic communication will read the electronic communication message promptly. Because Open Mind Counseling cannot assure clients that recipients will read electronic communication messages promptly, clients must not use electronic communication in a medical emergency.
- If a client’s electronic communication requires or invites a response, and the recipient does not respond within a reasonable time, the client is responsible for following up to determine whether the intended recipient received the electronic communication and when the recipient will respond.
- Because employees do not have a right of privacy in their employer’s electronic communication system, clients should not use their employer’s email system to transmit or receive confidential medical information.
- Open Mind Counseling cannot guarantee that electronic communications will be private. Open Mind Counseling will take reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of client electronic communication but is not liable for improper disclosure of confidential information not caused by Open Mind Counseling’s gross negligence or wanton misconduct.
- If the client consents to the use of electronic communication, he/she is responsible for informing Open Mind Counseling of any types of information the client does not want to be sent by electronic communication.
- Client is responsible for protecting his/her password or other means of access to electronic communication sent or received by/from Open Mind Counseling to protect confidentiality. Open Mind Counseling is not liable for breaches for confidentiality caused by client.
- Any further use of electronic communication by the client that discusses diagnosis or treatment by the client constitutes informed consent to the foregoing. You may withdraw consent to the use of electronic communication at any time by electronic communication or written communication to Open Mind Counseling attention: Counselor.
- All electronic communication sent from Open Mind Counseling will refer to the clients by his/her first name and initial of last name, in order to protect the confidentiality of the client.