Email and Texting in Mental Health Practice: Legal-Ethical and Risk Management Issues

Course Materials

Email and HIPAA Compliant Practice: Is It Possible?
Texting and HIPAA Compliant Practice
Chapter 2: To Secure Or Not To Secure? A Pretty Important Question.
Even Though They Have a Right Under HIPAA To Unencrypted Emails: A Case For Only Using Secure Email and Texting With Clients
Clients Have the Right to Receive Unencrypted Emails (and Texts) Under HIPAA
Non-Internet Risks in Email and Texts With Clients
Chapter 3: Professional Practice Around Email and Texting
Professionalism In Engaging With Clients by Email and Text
How Do You Document Emails and Text Messages Received From Clients?
Epilogue

Syllabus

This course is a guided reading, which means it is made up of a series of related articles. Below are the articles included in this course:

  • Email and HIPAA Compliant Practice: Is It Possible?: A survey of how email fits into the security and privacy landscape of mental health practice. Briefly covers risk management issues and HIPAA requirements.
  • Texting and HIPAA Compliant Practice: Also a survey of what we call “text messaging” and how the different forms of it look under the hood terms of security and privacy. HIPAA’s applications are discussed.
  • Clients Have the Right to Receive Unencrypted Emails (and Texts) Under HIPAA: An explanation of how, and theories as to why, HIPAA allows clients the autonomy to request unsecure emails and texts from their health care providers. HIPAA’s rules are compared with ethics codes and state laws, and some risk management considerations are explained.

  • Even Though They Have a Right Under HIPAA To Unencrypted Emails: A Case For Only Using Secure Email and Texting With Clients: A case is made for not only using secured email and texting, but also for how one could go about making that security comfortable and attractive. Strategies for fostering better security are provided.

  • Non-Internet Risks in Email and Texting With Clients: A survey of risks to client confidentiality and safety when emails and texts from therapists sit at rest in client cloud services and devices. These risks remain even when good security is used to send emails over the Internet. Strategies for collaboration on risk management are provided.

  • Professionalism In Engaging With Clients by Email and Text: Explores the ethical issues of professional voice in textual communication and turnaround time/boundaries around textual communications from clients. Strategies for managing both are covered.

  • How Do You Document Emails and Text Messages Received From Clients?: Explores the documentation-related questions of whether or not to document, how much to document, and the logistics of going about documenting. Strategies and ethical rules for all 3 points are discussed.

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