Good: You’re communicating.

Now: Do it securely, with AMA dr2dr Secure Messaging.

July 5, 2016

For Alberta’s physicians, secure messaging has arrived. And while you have some choice as to your preferred system, only one has been designed specifically with the needs of AMA members in mind, and that’s AMA dr2dr Secure Messaging.

Since late 2015, the AMA and Microquest have been working with the AMA Secure Messaging Engagement Committee, strategizing and implementing a secure messaging system that accomplishes three main goals:

1. Addresses security concerns inherent in faxing, texting and emailing
2. Improves clinic/office workflow
3. Improves patient care

The Red Deer warm-up

An early trial of AMA dr2dr started in May with physicians and clinics in the Red Deer area. Through information sessions and in-clinic consultations, the doctors and their clinic staff have been getting to know AMA dr2dr, experiencing first-hand the communication channels and practices that AMA dr2dr improves upon, with its quicker, easier, secure and billable processes.

“I like the ease of use, the fact that it’s secure and that I can attach virtually any kind of document to my message,” says Dr. Sandy J. Murray, a general practitioner in Red Deer.

“My messaging is automatically archived for reference and record-keeping and there’s decreased paper clutter and associated fax machine expenses,” he continues. “I also appreciate being able to use it from any computer – including my mobile devices – anywhere I am.”

Benefits are immediate

After just one month of use, Dr. Kimberley P. Kelly began to realize the improved workflow and patient care benefits of AMA dr2dr.

“AMA dr2dr has significantly improved the continuity of care we provide to patients at two addiction facilities where I work,” she says.

“Within seconds, the transferring physician and I are able to communicate crucial information, as well as concurrent disorders, which may have a huge impact on the success of treatment … I already feel that AMA dr2dr has allowed me to practise better medicine.”

Not just for physicians

A key feature of AMA dr2dr Secure Messaging is that it’s as much a tool for office/clinic staff as it is for the physicians. And that’s a benefit the AMA dr2dr implementation team is looking forward to introducing to clinics across the province.

“I think there’s this perception that implementing a secure messaging system in your practice is going to be one more technological task; yet another application or system for the physician to learn and for his/her office staff to also learn,” says Dr. Scott F. Wilson, member of the AMA Secure Messaging Engagement Committee. “The truth is that once the physician has registered an AMA dr2dr account, any of his/her clinic staff can use the system, all under that one account,” at a monthly (billable) cost of $34.99.

“Clinic staff can initiate the conversation for the doctor and add notes, files, letters, photographs, x-rays, etcetera. Then the doctor can add any final comments or advice and push Send. Of course, responses – which can happen immediately because AMA dr2dr creates an online conversation environment – can be sent back to the physician and/or his/her clinic staff.”

“It takes out so many layers,” Dr. Wilson comments. “And that often results in the biggest benefit of all, which is quicker, more efficient patient care.”

Strength in numbers

As the number of physicians using AMA dr2dr Secure Messaging increases, so too will the user benefits. Increased use of the system will support reduced wait times (referrals and consultations taking place online, with related electronic records replacing time- and resource-consuming faxes, texts, phone calls and emails); lower clinic costs (saved faxing and related resourcing costs); a more efficient health care system (improved continuity of care); and related innovation and development of online practice support tools, such as more widespread EMR integration and ultimately, secure e-communications with patients.

Who’s on AMA dr2dr? Making those connections

Your AMA dr2dr account provides you with access to the Address Book, listing all system-user physicians and clinics. As of June 29, there are over 580 users on AMA dr2dr from across Alberta.

For Dr. Sameh C. Azer, another early user of AMA dr2dr, it’s the ease of communications and connecting with specialists and other GPs that stands out.

“I’m using AMA dr2dr to communicate the history of patients to the anestheologist so he/she can make an educated and informed decision as to whether the patient is suitable for day surgery or if other measures need to be taken,” Dr. Azer says. “It’s very efficient and time-saving for both me and the anestheologist.”

In addition to making connections, avoiding the fax machine – and the accompanying mountains of paper and the required copying and filing to make those referral and consultation connections – is another notable benefit. With status folders – not processed, pending, in process, on hold, done – the online record-keeping capabilities of AMA dr2dr are intuitive and with its notification system, you know right away whether a physician or clinic is available and receiving messages. Compare that immediate response to the “great unknown” once you hit “Send” on your fax machine.

What?! Immediate consults and referrals?

With AMA dr2dr, consultations are easy and painless, as all health care procedures should be. Again, with the notification system, you know when a clinic or physician has received and read your consult or referral request and you know if a physician or clinic is unavailable, i.e. on vacation, on a leave of absence, in the process of moving offices, etcetera.

Time saved for you = time saved for your patients, as the absence of delays and administrative duties associated with faxing means quicker first contacts with patients and specialists, along with the possibility that an easily and efficiently facilitated consultation could even eliminate the need to see a specialist.

E-consult fee codes means AMA dr2dr pays for itself

An account subscription cost is $34.99 a month, covering one physician and any/all clinic staff reporting to the physician.

Just one advice request a month and AMA dr2dr is paid for! Family physicians and specialists can effectively cancel out the subscription cost with the e-consult fee codes for both referring (fee code 03.01R - $34.23) and referred-to (fee code 03.01O - $76.27).

Supports are in place; all systems go!

Support resources are available at no cost on www.dr2dr.ca to help you and your clinic staff members make the most of AMA dr2dr Secure Messaging. Under “Getting Started,” choose the tools that work best for you, including Quick Start Guides, Tip Sheets, several helpful YouTube tutorial videos and a comprehensive AMA dr2dr User Manual.

Information and training sessions (Cisco Webex)

Get to know AMA dr2dr by joining an information session or dig deeper with a lunch-hour training session (perfect for clinic staff). View the schedule.

Sign up now! FREE until September 30

Until September 30, there is no charge for a subscription to AMA dr2dr Secure Messaging. Sign-up yourself and your clinic staff for this free trial period and over the summer, get to know AMA dr2dr and find out how you can use the secure messaging system to improve your office/clinic workflow and patient care.

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.