Should You Integrate Secure Email Sending with an EMR or EHR?
Email is the preferred medium for business communications. Although those in the healthcare industry face restrictions on how they can use email, it is a powerful tool if properly secured. By integrating secure email with an EMR or EHR system, healthcare organizations can automate communications to maximize efficiency.
What Are EMRs and EHRs?
Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digitized versions of medical records. EMRs are sometimes referred to as electronic health records (EHRs). Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are slight distinctions between them.
Let’s start with electronic medical records. EMRs are essentially electronic versions of patient charts. They record a patient’s medical history and treatments at one hospital or practice. EMRs tend to stay at the practice, even if a patient switches to a new provider.
In contrast, EHRs contain a record of a patient’s medical history and treatment. They are long-term records that offer insight into a patient’s health, following them as they seek healthcare from different providers. EHRs are designed for information sharing. They help facilitate care when patients visit new clinics or hospitals.
Simply put, an EMR or EHR is the system used to manage or process these respective types of health records. Both EMRs and EHRs come with many of the same benefits and downsides as other forms of digitized information. The data is easier to find, access, and share, which can help speed up medical treatment and improve care. However, if the right data protection mechanisms aren’t in place, EHRs and EMRs are susceptible to data breaches and violations of privacy.
Why Integrate Secure Email with your EMR or EHR?
One of the main advantages of integrating secure email with an EMR or EHR is the ability to automate communications. Actions taken in the EMR can trigger email sequences. For example, an upcoming appointment can trigger an appointment reminder email. It requires no effort on the part of the office staff to send the email or make a phone call. The IT or marketing team simply creates the email template language and uses dynamic variables to personalize each email with the patient’s name, appointment date, and time.
If an organization integrates secure email with its EMR or EHR systems, they can set up automatic emails for a wide range of actions. Whenever there is relevant activity or an update on a patient’s chart, emails can be sent off without having to lift a finger. Some examples of emails that can be triggered by EMR activity include:
- a request for a review post-appointment
- follow up information on lab work or scheduling testing
- flu shot or other vaccine reminders
- password resets to access EHR
Ultimately, integrating secure transactional email with an EMR makes it easy to promote the organization and increase patient satisfaction. In addition, automating email workflows decreases the administrative burden on office staff without sacrificing the patient experience.
The Risks of Integrating Secure Email with an EMR or EHR
It’s extremely important to select the right provider to integrate secure emails with an EMR or EHR. The HIPAA laws that govern medical records are stringent, and organizations face serious repercussions for violating them. The provider must comply with HIPAA regulations and encrypt outgoing emails that contain protected health information.
All encryption is not equal. A secure email provider like LuxSci allows users to choose the appropriate type of encryption to suit their email use cases. TLS encryption, which allows recipients to read encrypted emails directly in their inboxes, is appropriate for emailed appointment reminders, but is not suitable for something like lab or test results. Choose a provider who can meet your encryption needs.
Another factor to consider is desired sending rate. Many email providers use shared cloud servers which limit how quickly emails can be sent from an EMR. However, for emails that are time-sensitive, this can be an issue. Using a dedicated server configuration separate from the office’s regular day-to-day email sending has performance and security benefits. Improve your security posture by keeping EMR or EHR data isolated from other customers of your email provider. Learn more: Dedicated Server Benefits: How They Improve Security and Reliability.
Despite these challenges, services like LuxSci’s HIPAA-compliant Secure High Volume Email are specifically designed to help navigate the complex intersections of the regulations and transactional email sending. Our dedicated email solutions are custom-designed to meet our client’s sending needs while adhering to HIPAA requirements.