Computers and Communication
Communicating with Clinicians
Email has advantages and disadvantages in a health care setting. The advantages are ready access to information, an easy way of following the thread of a conversation, and the ability to send and receive messages whenever we have the time to respond. The disadvantages are that email is inherently not secure (email messages can get diverted to others) and email is not always the most reliable way of communicating – for various reasons an email message may not get responded to immediately. Weighing these advantages and disadvantages over the years we have decided that using email is probably worth it for relatively straightforward questions that are not urgent. Complicated questions usually require a conversation, and for urgent issues we suggest sending an email but also calling us and leaving a message.
For clinical communication we are now (September 2014) using Virtru to encrypt email communication. To read the emails encrypted in this way you have to sign up for a free account and add a plug in to your browser or to Outlook.
Currently we are happy to share a template for mood tracking that is hosted by Google Documents. The advantage of this system is that it allows easy sharing of information with your clinicians, the disadvantage is that it is not as user-friendly as dedicated applications such as Optimism Online.
With some patients who come from far away to get care at Gateway we have worked out a way of staying in touch using web conferencing technology. You should talk with your clinician about this option and you should know that we find that in person visits every three months are still necessary, telepsychiatry doesn’t seem to completely substitute for in person psychotherapy and assessment. The service we use is Doxy.me , which you can sign up with for free. We also particularly like the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 as an add-on webcam. The quality of internet video calls with this setup is fairly good.