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Secure messaging

Secure messaging is a safe, seamless, secure exchange of clinical information between health and care providers. The message is encrypted by the sender and is decrypted by the receiver, providing a significantly safer communication method than email and fax, for instance.


Click the topics below to learn more about ‘why’ and ‘how’ to use secure messaging and access professional development.

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Why use secure messaging?

Traditionally healthcare providers have used fax, and more recently email, to share patient and clinical information. This medium of sharing information has little to no security measures. Secure messaging ensures better protection of patient information through enhanced security measures and has been shown to reduce the number of errors that occur with transcribing.


Use the arrows below to click through and learn more about the benefits of secure messaging.

Specialists

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Specialists can benefit from secure messaging through:

  • Improved timeliness of receipt of referrals and clinical information,
  • Better informed care due to the right information being available at the point of care,
  • Access to a broader range of referrers,
  • Streamlined administration due to reduction in paper-based processes,
  • Improved coordination of care as a result of improved communication between healthcare providers,
  • Confidence in privacy and security of transmitting patient data, and
  • Improved auditability and system confirmation of message receipt.

Practice Managers 

and Staff

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Practice Managers and Staff can benefit from secure messaging through:

  • A single channel through which referrals and correspondence are received,
  • Supports remote working,
  • Increased automation in sending and receiving correspondence,
  • Reduced overheads and more cost-effective delivery of service from reduced use of paper correspondence,
  • Improved coordination of care and service integration,
  • Reduction in error rates through reduced manual data collection, and
  • Improved practice efficiency from reduction in scanning and faxing.

Patients

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Patients can benefit from secure messaging through:

  • ​Patient data being appropriately and securely treated,
  • A reduced need to retell the same information,
  • Confidential patient correspondence only being seen by treating clinicians,
  • Better informed care due to the right information being available at the point of care, and
  • A more streamlined patient experience.

How to use secure messaging?

Transitioning to secure messaging can be simple and deliver benefits quickly. In this section, you will find information explaining how secure messaging works, how to implement secure messaging in your practice, and how to use secure messaging.

Click the topics below to learn more.

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Secure messaging enables instant and safe communication between healthcare providers. The infographic below outlines how secure messaging can work in your practice.

Sender

Sender's Clinical Information System

  • Reduced cost of postage or eFax subscription
  • Access to a broader range of referrers

Message encryption (sender's secure messaging provider)

Message decryption (receiver's secure messaging provider)

  • Increased confidence in the privacy and security of transmitting patient data due to an encrypted transmission
  • Reduced susceptibility to data breaches and being hacked

Receiver’s Clinical Information System

  • Single source of inbound referrals
  • Referral integrated into Specialist’s Clinical Information System
  • Acknowledgment of receipt by Specialist, and that the message has been opened

Receiver

  • Instant communication between health providers
Secure messaging infographic
Secure messaging infographic
Access secure messaging fact sheet

This fact sheet provides a high level overview of secure messaging and its benefits. You can share this with others who might be interested in learning more.

Access secure messaging FAQ sheet

Please see the following FAQ sheet to answer any questions or queries that you may have regarding secure messaging.

Transitioning to secure messaging in your practice will involve choosing a secure messaging provider, implementing security certificate as required, adding your practice and practitioner details including identifiers with your secure messaging provider, training staff and supporting the adoption of secure messaging. Consider the steps below and the supplementary Implementation Guide to make this transition a reality.

  

Click each of the steps below to learn more.

Access secure messaging implementation guide

This implementation guide includes step-by-step guidance to help your practice implement secure messaging.

The first step of setting up secure messaging involves choosing your secure messaging provider. The Implementation Guide provides examples of existing secure messaging providers and a list of criteria to aid the selection process, including compliance, hardware compatibility, software compatibility, and send/receipt confirmation capability.

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Secure messaging implementation requires specialists to have a Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I), the organisation to have a Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation (HPI-O), and ideally a National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Certificate or commercial PKI certificate from your secure messaging provider. Use of secure messaging also requires that your practice and practitioner details including identifiers are updated with your secure messaging provider to allow other organisations to discover your secure messaging details in order to communicate with you. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: if your practice is registered for My Health Record much of this work will have already been done.

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To get the most out of the secure messaging system, update your clinical workflows, your clinical information system address book, existing templates, practice documents, your website, and your practice’s contact details with your secure messaging provider Directory as well as other clinical directories that you use e.g. National Health Services Directory (NHSD).

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The final step for secure messaging implementation is to support the utilisation of secure messaging. This involves training staff, to support internal adoption, and talking to frequent referrers to identify other healthcare organisations that may have secure messaging capability.

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Using secure messaging can involve creating communications with templates, using unique secure messaging identifiers, identifying other providers around you, sending secure messages, and receiving secure messages.


Click on each of the steps below to learn more.

Access secure messaging user guide

This user guide includes step-by-step guidance to help you make use secure messaging to provide effective care.

Sending a secure message involves creating a message, which can be supported with existing templates, identifying the appropriate recipient for the message and retrieving the technical information from a secure messaging provider directory to enable message delivery. You can also find details in your clinical information system, your secure messaging provider’s directory, or from clinical directories such as the National Health Services Directory (NHSD). Next, the secure message can be sent via your clinical information system, where the successful delivery of secure messages can also be verified.

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Receiving secure messages should be similar to the process used to receive correspondence via other electronic channels, and instant notification of a new message should be provided via your clinical information system. Many providers include notification functionality that can let users know when a secure message has been received, meaning that senders should also be notified when you receive a message. Contact your clinical information system vendor or secure messaging provider for further information on receiving messages.

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Need support?

For support with digital health, please contact the Digital Health Help Centre, request training or 

contact your local Primary Health Network (PHN).

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