Practice technology and your consent form - Owl Practice Blog

Practice technology and your consent form

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I don’t need to tell you that consent forms are a necessary part of private practice life.

Whether referencing your treatment approach, privacy policy, limits of confidentiality, fee schedule, or payment terms, being clear and forthright with your clients at the outset of the therapeutic relationship is critical.

Elements that merit inclusion in your consent document, but are often overlooked or out-of-date, are the information technology tools used by your practice.

Technology & Consent Forms

Given the rapid pace of technological change, it is particularly important that your consent process keep pace with any new technologies you’re using to run your practice.

But keeping your consent form current is often low on the priority list, and a task that’s prone to procrastination.  Here are some tech considerations to think through for the next iteration of your consent form.  

You may want to reference your practice’s efforts to:

  • encrypt any sensitive client information that is stored on computers, servers, or portable drives (e.g. USB keys)
  • backup and store client information so it is not lost and is easily retrievable
  • use electronic communication tools (e.g. mobile phone, texting, email, fax) in a manner that insures confidentiality
  • use strong passwords for system access
  • limit the types of individuals in your practice who can access these tools (e.g. practice managers, or IT professionals), and the confidentiality by which they are bound
  • comply with College and PHIPA standards

What reference to a practice management system should I have in my consent form?

Something we’re routinely asked about at Owl Practice is what language should be included or added to an existing consent document when using a web-based tool like Owl Practice.  

In an effort to make this easier for those inquiring, we’ve drafted some sample text you can reference as you’re creating your own IT-specific  language for your consent form.  Here is some text you could refer to when crafting your consent form statement:

In administering our practice, we make use of a secure, web-based practice management system to store and manage our client records.  This includes information such as client appointments, billing documents, session notes, contact details, and other client-related information and documents.  The system we use is encrypted, has servers exclusively located in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), and access to the system is granted only on an as-needed basis and governed by our strict confidentiality policy.  Additionally, all practice data in the system is routinely backed up to insure the privacy and protection of sensitive client information and to assist us with PHIPA compliance.

Please use this as a guide only and make any changes you or your legal counsel deem necessary for the purposes of your practice’s consent form.  We are not lawyers (we need to say that), but the wording here is directionally correct and could at least get you started for your own consent form.

Best of luck with the next iteration of your consent form!

Practice wisely

 

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