The Dental Defence Union (DDU) issued guidance on October 31, 2022, concerning the potential risks and pitfalls of communicating with patients via direct messaging apps.

The DDU argues that while the pandemic increased our reliance on remote communication platforms, it is important to exercise caution and be aware of the potential risks and pitfalls if you're planning to use direct messaging with patients.

In particular, the appropriateness of direct messaging with patients must be carefully considered, with full regard to professional standards, regulations, and laws. Professional boundaries, record keeping, confidentiality, data protection and jurisdictional issues are all issues that must be considered before direct patient messaging begins.

Jo-Anne Taylor, dento-legal adviser at the DDU said, “The increased use of technology in professional practice undoubtedly offers new opportunities to deliver innovative services to patients. However, there are risks associated with this and it is also important to remember that disclosing direct messages may be necessary if a complaint, claim, or regulatory matter arises.

“Alternatively, workplace communication platforms may offer a secure and GDPR compliant, where records of patient communications can be more seamlessly integrated into the appropriate systems and the risk of professional boundaries becoming blurred is reduced.”