“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
~ Chinese Proverb
This policy would pertain to the use of phones, emails, and text messaging.
It is important for your clients to understand the boundaries and expectations around how and when they can get in touch with you, and how soon and in what way you will respond. You may want to include all aspects of your Communications Policy in your informed consent. Alternatively, you may create a separate document to be shared with your client or posted on your website, and only include specific points in your informed consent.
Consider the following questions in crafting your Electronic Communications Policy:
- In an average day, what are the business hours that you will be answering your phone or checking your email?
- What days of the week will you be checking voicemail? Email?
- How long might people have to wait to hear a response to voicemail? Email?
- How would you like people to contact you for changes to same day appointments?
- Can clients contact you by text message? If so, what boundaries would need to be in place?
1) On your voicemail you should let clients know when they can expect to hear back from you, and either have 911 or a 24 hr crisis line number listed that clients can call if they are in need of immediate assistance.
2) Your email should always contain a signature line containing your full name, credentials, contact information and a privacy disclaimer.
Things you may want to add to your privacy disclaimer:
- That the message is confidential and intended for the use of the recipient only;
- That if the message has been wrongly received, the recipient is instructed to contact the sender and destroy all copies, including electronic, of the message;
- That the message is subject to the provisions of the privacy legislation applying to the practice.
Potential Phone Policy Scripting:
I can be reached by phone from (insert business hours and days you will be checking msgs) at (insert your phone number). However, if I am not available at the time you call, I encourage you to leave a detailed message. I return messages within (insert timeframe) (state if you do/ do not text with clients, if so, when and how will you respond)
If making changes to same day appointments, please (insert how you would like to be contacted). Alternatively I can be reached by email at (insert your email address). Messages will be responded to within (insert time frame you will be responding to msgs).
Please do not use email for confidential information. Due to the nature of online communications, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed although best practices are in place. Please clearly state the nature of your email in the subject line. In emergency situations or for urgent matters, please contact me by (insert method). If you require immediate assistance, you are encouraged to contact 911 or (insert name and contact details of 24hr crisis line). Crisis Counsellors are available 24hrs / 7 days a week for support.