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Therapy Emails and HIPAA

We want to extend what we do using email, but HIPAA (and good sense) requires that we take responsibilty for, “”securing patient records containing individually identifiable health information so that they are not readily available to those who do not need them.”

I think most therapists address this problem by restricting email communication to scheduling.  But what a waste!  We have the opportunity to keep the process more alive throughout the week by being in touch this way, and I’ve found it’s been helpful with certain clients. 

I see now that I have to stop until I’ve found a secure way to do it.  I don’t want the wrong eyes seeing these exchanges, and, once something is out in the unsecured wilderness of the internet, it can go anywhere.  This is deeply frustrating to me, because I can be more help to my clients if I can use these tools.

APA had a session on therapy and the web 10 years ago, and it excited a lot of conversation at the time, but it was mostly heat with little light.  Still no safe way to do therapy on the Internet.  Not good enough!

One Response to “Therapy Emails and HIPAA”

  1. Tim says:

    I find that using email between sessions can be very helpful. I give my clients many exercises, some of which are complex, and I have found that email is a great forum to clarify the steps to these exercises without needing to wait for the next session.

    However, my emails can creep into therapy between sessions when I answer more general questions that keep a client’s work rolling along during the week. So I do worry about the security of the communication.

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