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Communication methods

Secure message delivery

SMD is a communication method developed to deliver electronic messages including clinical information securely between providers. This may include sending or receiving important communication such as referrals, mental health treatment plans, specialist letters, progress reports and discharge summaries. SMD has many benefits including a reduction in paper correspondence, secure exchange of confidential information and timeliness.

Principle 12: Secure Message Delivery

Health professionals utilise SMD to communicate patient health information when using electronic comm

Urgency of communication

As a general rule, the referring professional should be kept informed of changes in the patient’s clinical status especially in times of acute illness. This is particularly important where the matter may have a broad impact on the person’s wellbeing or that of other individuals.  It is important to receive and deliver this information in a timely way to ensure that the patient receives the most appropriate clinical care in an appropriate timeframe. Some health professionals may find that this is best done in real-time whereby they allocate times for telephone consultations to handover important clinical information. In other cases it could require more detailed reporting and be provided in written form.

It is important and professional to acknowledge and respond to communications from other health professionals within an appropriate time frame.

Principle 13: Timely communication

Communication between professionals is conducted in a timely manner which is critical for patient wellbeing and in facilitating professional respect and goodwill. The degree of urgency determines the communication medium and time frame that is most appropriate.


Practice guide: Communication between medical and mental health professionals