Using G-Suite for Secure Messaging

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Secure messaging is so important for private practice. Our Code of Professional Conduct requires that we protect our clients' privacy, and we are also subject to laws like HIPAA (US), PIPEDA (Canada), and the GDPR (EU). I've written here about why you can't use free Gmail to communicate with your clients, but as my guide to secure messaging explains how you can create an environment that allows you to use a G-Suite email to communicate with your clients.

But opening the door to email can be a slippery slope, which may not always be healthy for your own personal work/life boundaries and may not be in the best interests of your client. Secure messaging not only protects client privacy but also slows down the conversation. On the other hand, it's hard to prompt clients to use secure messaging when they have to use an app or a portal. It's inconvenient for them, and that's why many of them will choose email.

I've been turning this conundrum over in my mind for the last few weeks, and it finally hit me. You can use G-Suite to simulate secure messaging in a very client-friendly way.

Here's what you're going to do:

Create a Form in your G-Suite that says "Have a question about your care plan? Submit it here and I'll get back to you as soon as I can." In the form, you'll want to set the notification rules so that you get an email when someone uses the form send you a question. 

Next, you're going to create a new Doc in your G Suite with your client's name on it and the date you're responding to the question. Paste their question, and type your answer in this file. Make sure to include a link at the bottom that says "Use this form to continue the conversation" with a link to your form. Then, share the document as "View Only." Your client can then read your response in a format that will be very easy for them.

If you give this a try, post in the comments and let us know how it's working for you.