An educational article series in 9 articles, with Further Reading and Resources at the end
There is no doubt in our minds that email and texting are the hottest technology issue on the minds of mental health clinicians across the US.
You’d think it would be online video or Internet record-keeping, right? Nope! Everywhere we go, most of the curiosity and anxiety is focused on these, the most popular media for communication with clients.
As such, we’ve written a ton about them. And the environment around email and texting in mental health has been rapidly shifting for years, so we’ve updated these articles many times. We hope you find them useful!
What Is This Again?
Person-Centered Tech has been publishing free articles on technology in mental health practice since 2012. The following is a curated series of those articles, painstakingly updated for the current moment and placed in an order to help you get the most benefit from them.
Along these lines, we also offer a continuing education course on Email and Texting in Mental Health Practice. If you would like CE credit for your study time, check out the course here.
The following articles are numbered according to our recommended reading order. Of course you may buck our system and read them however you wish.
Before we can start talking about the use of email in our practices, we need to establish the basics of how email fits in to the HIPAA picture. This next article does that, while also giving some resources for finding the kinds of email services you may need.
Clinicians need to make sure our email communications are protected. But “protected” doesn’t always mean what you think it means.
Internet phone services have exploded in recent years, and therapists are flocking to use them. We hate to report bad news around here, but nearly every one of those cheap Internet phone services does not play well with HIPAA. That doesn’t mean all is lost, though. Read on for details:
A phone line for your practice that costs ZERO dollars? Sounds too good to be true. With HIPAA, it might be… or it might not?
Okay, time for one of the most popular articles in the history of Person-Centered Tech! To be honest, though, we have mixed feelings about it. We’ve become concerned that many therapists find themselves easily pulled in to the idea of a quick and easy fix for the issue of exchanging emails and texts with clients. That doesn’t mean conventional, nonsecure email is unusable, though. We simply ask that everyone read both of the following 2 articles with a serious mind towards ethical and legal responsibilities around client safety and confidentiality.
A major upside of the 2013 HIPAA Omnibus Rule was the clarification that clients can request to receive unencrypted emails if first informed of the risks.
4) Even Though They Have a Right Under HIPAA To Unencrypted Emails: A Case For Only Using Secure Email and Texting With Clients
Unencrypted emails/texts aren’t the only way to comfortably contact clients. There is a case for putting in the effort to make secure communications work.
Now that we’ve explored the big issues around email, texting, and confidentiality, let’s look at a couple of good tools for doing it!
I’d like to tell you about two software services that may be of interest to most clinicians who are looking for ways to provide a high level of privacy for clients. But first, some background: At Person-Centered Tech, we are often asked how clinicians can do both of these things: Do texting or email with clients in […]
Documentation of emails and texts has been a moving target for years. As such, we’ve updated this article many time since it was first published. We invite you to read on to discover what is up in our most recent update of it!
All communications with a client are legally part of their medical record, but do we document every single email or text? How do we document them?
And finally, some advice that comes from Roy’s experiences consulting for colleagues who’ve had their email hacked.
I don’t do a lot of consulting for people who’ve experienced a “security breach” in their practices. But in the last year I’ve gotten 7 inquiries about security breaches from colleagues, and every single one was from someone whose email had been hacked into. So I’d like to make sure everyone knows the two things […]
Further Reading and Resources
We’ve produced a ton of articles on practice tech just for mental health professionals. Below are several that we think are worth reading your way through over time.
HIPAA forms like the Notices of Privacy Practices, BAAs, Risk Analysis Tools, and more can be found for free from a number of helpful sources. We list our favs.