Encryption available through Medical E-mail

Providers who are trying to navigate the e-mail territory but don’t want to do it themselves might find help through a company called Salu.net. The company offers physician-customized Web sites; secure, encrypted messaging through its Medical E-mail; and permanent message archiving.

"Everything you do in a practice is a legal document," says David Sanders, MD, CEO and founder of Salu.net.

"It is important you have a record means to track all of those [e-mail] communications. On a real-time basis, we extract all of the data points that go on, and we archive them in a compressed fashion. If a member wants to go back and retrieve documentation, it’s there for them."

The messages are archived for 10 years. "Then we contact members and ask them if they want to receive data backups of their systems. At that point, we will begin to discard records."

The Web sites are used for patient education, practice promotion, and customer support. Patients can retrieve different educational materials, which the physicians have chosen to offer. Patients can also find out more about the practice and even get directions and office hours.

Physicians can access Salu.Net from any system that has Internet capabilities. Salu.net is also integrated, so physicians can access everything in the system by signing on and giving a password.

Salu.net has a training program for users, which urges them to talk to patients about using e-mail. "For example, make it clear to patients that if they are going to use e-mail with you, here is what is considered appropriate content and timeliness," Sanders says.

A newer version of the system will provide a guidance site for patients that tells them how to become an effective user of e-mail with their physicians.

Offering e-mail resources makes physicians seem more current with the times, Sanders says. "Doctors who are on-line are put back in the game. They are more in the partnering mode than an outsider’ who is not providing information."

Editor’s note: For more information about Salu.net, call (888) 288-SALU.

Reference

1. Mandl KD, Kohane IS, Brandt AM. Electronic Patient-Physician Communication: Problems and Promise, Annals of Internal Medicine 1998; 129:495-500.