Question: When and how can non-Connect Care patient messaging tools be used?
Context: While AHS provides a variety of healthcare-appropriate communication tools, there remain situations where no secure or approved technology is available... but asynchronous communication is essential to care. The COVID-19 pandemic poses extraordinary challenges when patients and families must be supported at a distance. Clinicians may need to use non-approved technologies that are immediately available to both provider and patient when approved tools are not.
Examples of situations where secure tools may not be usable within a clinically reasonable time frame include:
- Patient portal (MyAHS Connect) activation challenges:
Patient sign-up and activation for MyAHS Connect is not instantaneous. Although clinicians can issue an "activation code" with a single click, patients do not get access to the portal until they have completed registration for an Alberta.ca Account (formerly known as the MyAlberta Digital ID or MADI service). This can involve delays of a week or more. And, some patients find the process difficult. While Connect Care secure patient messaging is always preferred, it is not always available.
- Patient email:
Email communications to patients and families can be secure if sent from an AHS email account when "!Private" is inserted in the subject line. However, the email services commonly available to patients are unlikely to support equivalently secure return emails.
Answer: MyAHS Connect clinical secure messaging should be used when available. Temporary use of un-regulated technologies may be necessary when they are the only available solution for a pressing clinical need. Patients should be aware of the risks, provide verbal consent to proceed, and have that documented in Connect Care.