What is an electronic signature?
An electronic signature is any electronic means that indicates either that an individual agrees to the contents of an electronic document, or that the person who claims to have written a document is the one who wrote it.
A signature can be any symbol made with the intent to authenticate a record or contract that is both:
(a) attached to or logically associated with a contract e.g. service contract, form e.g. consent form or record e.g. chart note; and
(b) executed or adopted with the intent to sign the record.
This means that an electronic signature can be (without limitation):
clicking a check box
stylized script e.g. a written signature
Are electronic signatures valid?
Most US states give electronic signatures the same legal effect as traditional signatures.
We suggest you include could have the following statements on your forms to show that there is an intent to conduct their relations electronically:
You agree that the electronic signatures included in this [form / consent / contract] are intended to authenticate this writing and to have the same force and effect as manual signatures.
Electronic signature means any electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed and adopted by a party with the intent to sign such record, including (without limitation) typing a name or clicking a check box.
Proper Processes and Controls
The complication of using electronic signatures is authentication of the person signing. You need to satisfy yourselves of “nonrepudiation” – i.e. ensuring that data really is from the designated client, not someone else, so that the client cannot deny signing the document in the future.
Please remember, you need to verify the identity of the client signing. This can be by asking multiple questions in the form, such as the patient’s date of birth, mother’s maiden name, social security number, driver’s license number or demographic information. You should then compare the answers in the submitted online form against another source e.g. referral letter, drivers license, health insurance card.