Secure Messaging

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We are developing this resource to help physicians decide whether to implement secure messaging. This page is intended as an introduction, with more detailed guidance coming to align with the April 2024 PoC Pilot launch date.

When completed, this resource will help Ontario physicians understand:

  • how and when secure messaging can support clinical practice.
  • whether implementation of secure messaging will enhance their clinical workflow.

Ontario Health Secure Messaging Proof-of-Concept (PoC) Pilot

Registration is currently open for the OH Secure Messaging PoC Pilot, launching April 1, 2024. By registering, physicians will be eligible to receive compensation from the Ontario Virtual Care Program (OVCP) for secure messaging service encounters during the 2-year program, according to the terms and conditions of the Registration Contract and Billing Guide.

To be eligible for compensation, registrants must:

1. Be a physician with a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) billing number, practicing in Ontario.

2. Deliver services to patients within an existing/ongoing patient-physician relationship.

3. Have completed registration by July 31, 2024. 

What is Secure Messaging?

Secure messaging platforms support the delivery of high-quality care to patients through secure text, audio, and video sessions. The platforms are PHIPA-compliant and can support secure one-way (physician to patient) or bidirectional communications (initiated by patient or physician), either synchronously or asynchronously.

Secure messaging platforms can support clinical workflow through:

  • clinical questionnaires curated by physicians via secure web, email and text to reach patients before they come to the clinic
  • sharing physician availability so patients can view and book appointments online on their own also allowing for automated reminders and scheduling
  • sending referrals, requisitions, prescriptions and any other other documents needed to be shared with patients
  • supporting efficient outpatient follow up, including remote monitoring and patient self-management

Implementation support and education

When making the decision to adopt secure messaging, there are clinical and technical considerations in terms of appropriateness and feasibility for individual practice settings. Physician and patient education in appropriate use is a critical factor in successful implementation.

High-level implementation guidance

Physicians may feel hesitant about secure messaging, particularly in terms of unrealistic patient expectations about physician response times and frequency of visits, or potential for being overwhelmed with requests and messages.

However, there are tips that can help clinics implement secure messaging in a way that works for their specific clinic setting, such as:

    • communicating to patients about appropriate use and expectations for secure messaging, including response time, subject lines, etc.
    • scheduling and blocking time to address patient messages and emails.
    • limiting the number of characters or words patients can use to make short, concise requests or comments.
Technical support

OntarioMD offers a suite of free supports to guide physicians in selecting and implementing virtual care platforms. For support of secure messaging adoption, these include:

  • OntarioMD Peer Leaders: A network of 60+ physicians who offer free, direct support to assist healthcare providers in selecting and implementing health technologies that will best serve their unique needs.
  • OntarioMD Educates: CME-Accredited webinar series conducted by OntarioMD Peer Leaders and experts with a focus on education and clinical enhancements using digital health tools. A secure messaging-focused series launched in December 2023 and will include additional webinars in the coming months, providing an introduction on secure messaging and decision aids on how to adopt secure messaging in practice.

Please check back in April 2024 for full clinical implementation support.