FAQs

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FAQs for Patients

Introduction to MedTunnel

Why was MedTunnel created?

MedTunnel was created out of pure necessity. Even with current modern communication methods there is no secure method of sending private health information (PHI) electronically. As a result, most healthcare providers still use fax as their primary method of sending patient documents to other healthcare providers or to their patients. Worse still, many providers are sending messages and images containing PHI via text messages on their mobile devices because of the convenience even though this is not secure.  The founders of MedTunnel, which include physicians and programmers, decided that they were going to solve this problem by creating a simple, fast, secure, and free service to allow anyone to send PHI to anyone else as easily as sending an email or a text message.

Why can’t anyone just email patient documents without MedTunnel?

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed in 1996 mandates that private health information (PHI) must remain secure. As a result, an insecure service like email can not be used to send PHI. Unfortunately, most people are under the incorrect assumption that email is secure. Even if you are logging into an email provider like Gmail and you are connected via SSL (https) this does not mean that your message is being sent securely to your destination. Your message may be sent securely through https to Gmail (Google) but Gmail needs to use Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) to send your message to the destination and SMTP is not secure. This is why no one should send PHI using email - it is not secure, nor is it HIPAA compliant.

So if the service is free, what’s the catch?

There’s no catch - just a simple, secure, and free service that anyone can use to send private health information.  Also, there is no limit to how many documents or messages you can send.

What are the cost savings/environmental impact of using MedTunnel?

The cost savings and environmental impact are huge. For healthcare providers there are substantial savings in reducing or eliminating your use of fax by not having to pay for fax lines, fax equipment, shredding, paper, and toner all of which can be very expensive. Also, providers will get a cost benefit from increased worker productivity by eliminating the need for manually filing paper faxes, finding the fax you are looking for, scanning faxes, etc. On the environmental side, MedTunnel eliminates the use of paper and toner and allows you to send documents to patients without having them drive to your office.

How does MedTunnel eliminate spam?

Spam or unsolicited messages are expressly forbidden by our user agreement. A user should not send a message to any other user unless they are expecting it. Any user that receives an unsolicited message can mark it as being unsolicited and MedTunnel will address the matter with the sender to prevent this from happening again. MedTunnel reserves the right to cancel any user's account that is sending spam. Unlike email, MedTunnel is a closed, private system and, therefore, MedTunnel is able to regulate usage like preventing spam.

How do I send documents with MedTunnel?

A message which can include text and documents can be sent from your computer or mobile device.

From your computer (Mac or PC): After you log in to the web app using any browser on your computer, simply drag and drop the files you want to send and enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient. On a PC or Mac you can download our desktop app and utilize the Print-To-Send functionality. This will allow MedTunnel to show up as a printer on your system and then you can print to it from any application. This will convert your printing document to a PDF and allow you to enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  

From your mobile device: Download our mobile app to your tablet or phone.  After you log in to the mobile app - open compose message, type in any text (if needed), click on the attachments field to select location of document from the drop down menu, then attach desired document(s) from the selected folder. 

How long are documents stored on the MedTunnel server?

MedTunnel acts as a secure conduit to transport private health information and not as a permanent repository for documents. Messages, which can include text or documents, are stored for 14 days from the time they are sent - after which time they are automatically erased. This is regardless of whether they have been read or not.   The MedTunnel mobile app caches data from messages and attachments locally on the user's mobile device and they are saved there until the user deletes them.

Are documents sent via MedTunnel considered part of a patient’s medical record?

Since MedTunnel only acts as a conduit for transmitting messages and documents containing private health information (PHI) - and does not permanently store this information - documents sent via MedTunnel are not considered part of a patient’s medical record.  The original copies of all information transmitted via MedTunnel must be kept by the entity transmitting the information.

Can I access MedTunnel from my smart phone or tablet?

Yes. Access your account using the web app from any device with a web browser including your computer and mobile devices.  For even greater convenience on your iPhone or iPad - download the iOS app.  An Android app is coming soon, but even now you can access MedTunnel on Android using a web browser. 

What is a MedTunnel ID?

A MedTunnel ID is a unique identifier that represents a unique address on the MedTunnel system. It's like an email address when using email. Every MedTunnel user gets a unique MedTunnel ID when they sign up. When you send a document, you send it to the MedTunnel ID of the recipient. If a user is part of a provider group, then the ID will have the "@" symbol in the ID with the user name before the "@" and the group name after the "@" (please see the FAQ on "How do mailboxes work for group accounts?" for more details). Unlike an email address, a MedTunnel ID has no ".com" or other extension after the group name. Every group has a general mailbox (similar to a general fax number) at the MedTunnel ID "@groupname". So if you want to send a document to a healthcare provider group, and you don't know exactly which person in the group to send it to - then the "@groupname" address is the default choice.

MedTunnel encourages all providers to save their patients' MedTunnel IDs in their records. Some EMR/EHR systems don't have a mechanism to be able to do this yet. It is therefore possible to save a MedTunnel ID as an email address by adding the @medtunnel.com extension to the MedTunnel ID. For example, if a patient's MedTunnel ID is "jdoe123" then they can store "jdoe123@medtunnel.com" as the email address in their system. Anytime a message is sent via MedTunnel with either a recipient's or patient's MedTunnel ID having the "@medtunnel.com" extension, the MedTunnel system will automatically strip off the "@medtunnel.com" extension and treat it as a regular MedTunnel ID. A MedTunnel ID with the "@medtunnel.com" extension is not an email address. Email can not be sent to "jdoe123@medtunnel.com".

What is the MedTunnel Desktop app?

MedTunnel Desktop is an app that runs on a Mac or PC and is available for download from our support page.  The MedTunnel Desktop App makes sending and receiving documents simple and seamless and includes two featured components: MedTunnel Print-To-Send and AutoDownloader. 

The Print-To-Send feature shows up as a virtual printer on your system and simply print to this printer and your document is converted to a PDF file that can then be sent by specifying the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  You can also drag-and-drop files you want to send onto the app. 

The AutoDownloader feature will automatically download any documents addressed to you to a folder of your choosing. 

Besides the MedTunnel Desktop app, you can use our web app which is available on any web browser on any platform (including your mobile devices) to send and receive documents. A mobile app for iOS and Android is also available.

Security

Why can’t anyone just email patient documents without MedTunnel?

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed in 1996 mandates that private health information (PHI) must remain secure. As a result, an insecure service like email can not be used to send PHI. Unfortunately, most people are under the incorrect assumption that email is secure. Even if you are logging into an email provider like Gmail and you are connected via SSL (https) this does not mean that your message is being sent securely to your destination. Your message may be sent securely through https to Gmail (Google) but Gmail needs to use Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) to send your message to the destination and SMTP is not secure. This is why no one should send PHI using email - it is not secure, nor is it HIPAA compliant.

How does MedTunnel provide security and HIPAA compliance for documents?

When MedTunnel was being designed, it was decided that security and keeping private health information (PHI) private was of the utmost importance. In fact, it was decided that the security protocol should be such that even a MedTunnel employee, at any level, should not have access to PHI. MedTunnel therefore provides a seamless end-to-end secure conduit through the Internet for PHI delivery. How does MedTunnel accomplish this? All PHI transmitted between the client and the MedTunnel server is encrypted using SSL encryption. Once on the server, all PHI stored in our database or file system is encrypted utilizing AES encryption with two separate keys.  Both keys are required to unencrypt PHI.  Neither key is electronically stored and both keys have to be manually entered into our servers each time the servers launch. The servers store the keys in RAM only. The first key is known only by high-level personnel at MedTunnel. The second key is only known by an independent third party. MedTunnel and the third party are contractually obligated to not reveal their keys to each other.  In this way, the only entity able to unencrypt PHI is the server after both keys are manually entered. Neither MedTunnel personnel or the third party have access to PHI. Since MedTunnel acts as a secure conduit and MedTunnel itself can not access any PHI, according to HHS, a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is not required to use MedTunnel - just like a BAA is not required from the phone company when sending faxes, or a BAA is not required by the postal service when sending a letter.

How does MedTunnel verify the identity of providers?

All group providers will be manually verified by MedTunnel before they are allowed to show up on a search in the MedTunnel system. This is a process done automatically by MedTunnel and may take up to a week from sign-up. Unverified providers can still use the MedTunnel system normally for sending and receiving documents, but they will not show up in the search for providers. Only verified group providers will show up on a search.  Patients, single providers, and unverified group providers can not be searched.

Using MedTunnel

How do I send documents with MedTunnel?

A message which can include text and documents can be sent from your computer or mobile device.

From your computer (Mac or PC): After you log in to the web app using any browser on your computer, simply drag and drop the files you want to send and enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient. On a PC or Mac you can download our desktop app and utilize the Print-To-Send functionality. This will allow MedTunnel to show up as a printer on your system and then you can print to it from any application. This will convert your printing document to a PDF and allow you to enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  

From your mobile device: Download our mobile app to your tablet or phone.  After you log in to the mobile app - open compose message, type in any text (if needed), click on the attachments field to select location of document from the drop down menu, then attach desired document(s) from the selected folder. 

How can I view, download, or print messages and documents sent via MedTunnel?

Messages can be viewed, downloaded and printed using either the web app or desktop app on your computer or mobile app from your mobile device.

From your computer (Mac or PC): Viewing, downloading or printing documents can be done in two ways. First, when logged into the web app from your computer, you see a list of messages (which includes any attached documents) in your mailbox. Click on the message to view it.  If your message has attached documents to view - click on one of the attached documents in order to open it in our document viewer. From the viewer you can view and download the document. The second way is through our desktop app  (which runs on any PC or Mac and can be downloaded from our support page) which includes an AutoDownloader feature that you can set up to automatically download your received messages and documents directly to your computer. Messages downloaded by the AutoDownloader are marked as being read by you. Once a document is downloaded, it can then be viewed and printed as you would any other document from your computer.

From your mobile device: Download the mobile app to view, download, and print messages and attached documents directly from your mobile device. It should be noted that in order to print from your mobile device, the device must be mapped to a wireless or mobile print app enabled printer. 

Can I send documents to non-MedTunnel users?

Yes - you can absolutely send messages or documents to non-MedTunnel users.  In order to do so you will need their email address and a password they will know to use in order to view the secure documents.  Typically, the process is as follows: 

1) Place a phone call to the non-MedTunnel user recipient to let them know that, instead of faxing, you are going to send them their patient documents via MedTunnel to their email address.  

2) Determine a password to be used by the recipient.  Since the documents will be sent to this particular non-MedTunnel user for the first time, you and the recipient will pre-determine a password that will be needed in order to view the MedTunnel encrypted documents they are about to receive via their email.  For group account users, this password can be set globally for all messages.  Please note that on future documents you send to the same non-MedTunnel user recipient, the password used previously still applies until you change it by sending a document with a different password.   

3) Send the document to the recipient's email address.  Upon sending the document, the recipient will receive an email with a link to the MedTunnel-encrypted document.  When the recipient clicks the link, they must enter the password (as determined in Step 2) in order to view the document.  While they are viewing the document via the secure MedTunnel server, the recipient will be given the option to sign up to become a MedTunnel user for free.  If they sign up and you send a message to their email address,  you will be sent a notification to your MedTunnel mailbox providing you with their MedTunnel ID which will allow you, from that point on, to send them secure documents directly through MedTunnel without the need for a password.

How can I see if a document I sent was read by the recipient?

Each new sent message appears with a blue dot in the Sent Messages Box.  Once it is opened by the recipient the blue dot disappears - which indicates that it was read by the recipient. Additionally, each action on every document is automatically logged by the MedTunnel server. The server actually keeps track of when and by whom each document was viewed. The document history for a document can be viewed by any user from the document viewer in the web app or by touching the log button on the mobile app. 

How long are documents stored on the MedTunnel server?

MedTunnel acts as a secure conduit to transport private health information and not as a permanent repository for documents. Messages, which can include text or documents, are stored for 14 days from the time they are sent - after which time they are automatically erased. This is regardless of whether they have been read or not.   The MedTunnel mobile app caches data from messages and attachments locally on the user's mobile device and they are saved there until the user deletes them.

Can I access MedTunnel from my smart phone or tablet?

Yes. Access your account using the web app from any device with a web browser including your computer and mobile devices.  For even greater convenience on your iPhone or iPad - download the iOS app.  An Android app is coming soon, but even now you can access MedTunnel on Android using a web browser. 

What is the MedTunnel Desktop app?

MedTunnel Desktop is an app that runs on a Mac or PC and is available for download from our support page.  The MedTunnel Desktop App makes sending and receiving documents simple and seamless and includes two featured components: MedTunnel Print-To-Send and AutoDownloader. 

The Print-To-Send feature shows up as a virtual printer on your system and simply print to this printer and your document is converted to a PDF file that can then be sent by specifying the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  You can also drag-and-drop files you want to send onto the app. 

The AutoDownloader feature will automatically download any documents addressed to you to a folder of your choosing. 

Besides the MedTunnel Desktop app, you can use our web app which is available on any web browser on any platform (including your mobile devices) to send and receive documents. A mobile app for iOS and Android is also available.

After I become a MedTunnel user what is the best way to notify other people that I prefer my documents to be sent and received using MedTunnel instead of fax?

The Invite function is specifically made to give you the option of notifying other people of your preference to use MedTunnel over fax to send and receive messages or documents.  Here is how it works:

1) Log in to your account through through your desktop browser or Mobile App.

2) Click the Invite button.

3) Enter the email addresses of the people you want to notify and click send. 

This sends them your MedTunnel ID as well as an invitation to join MedTunnel.  If they join, a message will automatically be sent to your MedTunnel mailbox with their MedTunnel ID. 

I’m a patient and my health care provider is not yet on MedTunnel - What can I do?

MedTunnel is a boon for patients in that they can get access to their critical medical information instantly - without having to drive to their providers office or wait for it to arrive in the mail. If a patient's healthcare provider is not yet a MedTunnel user, they can use MedTunnel's Invite function to send their provider an email invite to join MedTunnel for free.

What are the benefits of providers encouraging all patients to get a MedTunnel ID?

There are a couple of key benefits to encouraging all patients to have a MedTunnel ID. Many providers may want to encourage this at the time of their next appointment or even allow them to create one during their appointment since it only takes a minute or two. The first benefit is that providers can now easily send medical documents such as labs and reports to their patients and keep them informed about their health.  The second benefit is a more efficient healthcare system. One of the challenges of healthcare is that there is no universal identifier for a patient. The patient ID in one provider's system does not match the patient ID in another provider's system. As a result, medical documents that are sent between providers have to be manually searched for identifying information like the patient's name and date of birth to try to match the patient in these systems. If every patient had a MedTunnel ID, which is a unique identifier, then matching patients in separate systems is made much easier. Please see the FAQ on "Is a MedTunnel ID for a patient a unique identifier?" for more information.

For patients, MedTunnel provides a more convenient way to access their providers.  For example, the practice may create a MedTunnel ID at "appointments@group" for patients to be able to schedule appointments without the need for a phone call.

FAQs for Providers

Introduction to MedTunnel

Why was MedTunnel created?

MedTunnel was created out of pure necessity. Even with current modern communication methods there is no secure method of sending private health information (PHI) electronically. As a result, most healthcare providers still use fax as their primary method of sending patient documents to other healthcare providers or to their patients. Worse still, many providers are sending messages and images containing PHI via text messages on their mobile devices because of the convenience even though this is not secure.  The founders of MedTunnel, which include physicians and programmers, decided that they were going to solve this problem by creating a simple, fast, secure, and free service to allow anyone to send PHI to anyone else as easily as sending an email or a text message.

Why can’t anyone just email patient documents without MedTunnel?

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed in 1996 mandates that private health information (PHI) must remain secure. As a result, an insecure service like email can not be used to send PHI. Unfortunately, most people are under the incorrect assumption that email is secure. Even if you are logging into an email provider like Gmail and you are connected via SSL (https) this does not mean that your message is being sent securely to your destination. Your message may be sent securely through https to Gmail (Google) but Gmail needs to use Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) to send your message to the destination and SMTP is not secure. This is why no one should send PHI using email - it is not secure, nor is it HIPAA compliant.

So if the service is free, what’s the catch?

There’s no catch - just a simple, secure, and free service that anyone can use to send private health information.  Also, there is no limit to how many documents or messages you can send.

Does MedTunnel provide a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA)?

Yes, but legally it is not required.  Since MedTunnel acts only as a secure conduit for sending private health information (PHI) and MedTunnel itself can not access any PHI, a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is not necessary to use MedTunnel just as a BAA is not required from your phone company when sending a fax containing PHI, or a BAA is not required from the postal service when sending a letter containing PHI.  This exception to the BAA is clearly stated on the HHS website which states that a BAA is not required "with a person or organization that acts merely as a conduit for protected health information, for example, the US Postal Service, certain private couriers, and their electronic equivalents."  If, however, you are more comfortable with a BAA, we would be happy to provide one for free.

What are the cost savings/environmental impact of using MedTunnel?

The cost savings and environmental impact are huge. For healthcare providers there are substantial savings in reducing or eliminating your use of fax by not having to pay for fax lines, fax equipment, shredding, paper, and toner all of which can be very expensive. Also, providers will get a cost benefit from increased worker productivity by eliminating the need for manually filing paper faxes, finding the fax you are looking for, scanning faxes, etc. On the environmental side, MedTunnel eliminates the use of paper and toner and allows you to send documents to patients without having them drive to your office.

How does MedTunnel eliminate spam?

Spam or unsolicited messages are expressly forbidden by our user agreement. A user should not send a message to any other user unless they are expecting it. Any user that receives an unsolicited message can mark it as being unsolicited and MedTunnel will address the matter with the sender to prevent this from happening again. MedTunnel reserves the right to cancel any user's account that is sending spam. Unlike email, MedTunnel is a closed, private system and, therefore, MedTunnel is able to regulate usage like preventing spam.

I’m a provider, can I use MedTunnel to send documents to my patients?

Yes - you can do this. You should encourage your patients to sign up for MedTunnel since it is a huge convenience for patients to get their medical documents instantaneously instead of having to drive to the office or wait for a letter in the mail. If you have a patient that requests a document, you can use our Invite function to send them an email invitation to join MedTunnel. After they join, and you try to send a message via their email, you will receive a notification in your MedTunnel mailbox that they are now a MedTunnel user with their MedTunnel ID included.  You can then simply send the document to this MedTunnel ID. Alternatively, if they have not signed up for MedTunnel - you can directly email them a document as long as you tell them a password over the phone that they will need to view the document. For more information on this, please see the FAQ on "Can I send documents to non-MedTunnel users?".

My practice already utilizes a web-based patient portal to communicate messages and documents to our patients - Why do I need MedTunnel?

If you are still using faxes to send medical documents, then you still need MedTunnel.  Even though web-based patient portals can be convenient for patients, they are not used when sending medical documents between providers.  Many practices with these types of portals still use the fax when sending or receiving medical documents from other providers outside their network.  The other advantage when using MedTunnel when sending patient documents to other providers is that the patient's MedTunnel ID can be used as a unique identifier to make identifying patients easier.

Web-based patient portals can be hard to set up and maintain for patients.  They typically have to sign up and create an account which is different that other accounts that they have with other healthcare providers.  With MedTunnel, patients only need one account where they can get their healthcare information from all of their healthcare providers.

Many web-based patient portals do not do a good job of filtering information and allow patients automatic access to any and all information.  This may lead to unnecessary questions regarding information that is not relevant to a patient which is confusing to the patient and requires added work for the provider who must now answer questions regarding this information.  With MedTunnel, the provider has complete control over which information the patient receives.

How do I send documents with MedTunnel?

A message which can include text and documents can be sent from your computer or mobile device.

From your computer (Mac or PC): After you log in to the web app using any browser on your computer, simply drag and drop the files you want to send and enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient. On a PC or Mac you can download our desktop app and utilize the Print-To-Send functionality. This will allow MedTunnel to show up as a printer on your system and then you can print to it from any application. This will convert your printing document to a PDF and allow you to enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  

From your mobile device: Download our mobile app to your tablet or phone.  After you log in to the mobile app - open compose message, type in any text (if needed), click on the attachments field to select location of document from the drop down menu, then attach desired document(s) from the selected folder. 

How long are documents stored on the MedTunnel server?

MedTunnel acts as a secure conduit to transport private health information and not as a permanent repository for documents. Messages, which can include text or documents, are stored for 14 days from the time they are sent - after which time they are automatically erased. This is regardless of whether they have been read or not.   The MedTunnel mobile app caches data from messages and attachments locally on the user's mobile device and they are saved there until the user deletes them.

Are documents sent via MedTunnel considered part of a patient’s medical record?

Since MedTunnel only acts as a conduit for transmitting messages and documents containing private health information (PHI) - and does not permanently store this information - documents sent via MedTunnel are not considered part of a patient’s medical record.  The original copies of all information transmitted via MedTunnel must be kept by the entity transmitting the information.

I already have an EMR/EHR solution, can MedTunnel integrate with this?

Our goal at MedTunnel is to make sending and receiving medical documents simple and easy. You can use our MedTunnel Desktop app which is available for both Mac and PC to send documents from any existing application that can print documents. When you install MedTunnel Desktop app, it installs a printer on your system named MedTunnel. From your EMR/EHR simply print the document you want to send and select the MedTunnel as your destination printer. The MedTunnel printer converts your printing document to a PDF file and then asks you for the document's recipient. On the receiving side, the MedTunnel Desktop app includes an AutoDownloader which automatically saves incoming documents to a folder of your choosing and can then be loaded into your existing EMR/EHR solution. So any EMR/EHR that allows you to print will automatically interface with MedTunnel on the sending side - and any EMR/EHR that allows for incorporation of incoming documents from a watched folder can automatically integrate with MedTunnel from the receiving side. It can do this without any additional programming. If you want deeper integration with your existing system, we at MedTunnel (in cooperation with your EMR/EHR vendor), would be happy to accomplish this for an existing user at no charge. Simply contact us at MedTunnel ID support.

Can I access MedTunnel from my smart phone or tablet?

Yes. Access your account using the web app from any device with a web browser including your computer and mobile devices.  For even greater convenience on your iPhone or iPad - download the iOS app.  An Android app is coming soon, but even now you can access MedTunnel on Android using a web browser. 

What kind of health care providers can sign up for MedTunnel?

Any kind of health care entity can sign up for MedTunnel. This includes doctors offices, imaging centers, hospitals, clinics, physical therapy centers, insurance companies, surgery centers, labs, transcription services, or any other organization that needs to send private health information.

I'm a healthcare provider, should I sign up as a single provider or as a group?

This depends on whether or not your entire group is ready to sign up or not. If you are part of a large healthcare organization and the entire organization has not yet decided to sign up with MedTunnel, then you should sign up as an individual provider. When the entire organization does sign up, your individual provider account can be merged into the group account.

Our healthcare organization is ready to sign up, what is the process?

When a healthcare organization or group is ready to sign up for MedTunnel, then they should sign up as a group of providers. There needs to be at least one person who acts as the administrator for the group to create the group account and the administrator account. Once this is done, the administrator can manage users and mailboxes from the admin area of the web app.  Before signing up, please watch the videos on our support page to learn how to sign up and administer your account.

What is a MedTunnel ID?

A MedTunnel ID is a unique identifier that represents a unique address on the MedTunnel system. It's like an email address when using email. Every MedTunnel user gets a unique MedTunnel ID when they sign up. When you send a document, you send it to the MedTunnel ID of the recipient. If a user is part of a provider group, then the ID will have the "@" symbol in the ID with the user name before the "@" and the group name after the "@" (please see the FAQ on "How do mailboxes work for group accounts?" for more details). Unlike an email address, a MedTunnel ID has no ".com" or other extension after the group name. Every group has a general mailbox (similar to a general fax number) at the MedTunnel ID "@groupname". So if you want to send a document to a healthcare provider group, and you don't know exactly which person in the group to send it to - then the "@groupname" address is the default choice.

MedTunnel encourages all providers to save their patients' MedTunnel IDs in their records. Some EMR/EHR systems don't have a mechanism to be able to do this yet. It is therefore possible to save a MedTunnel ID as an email address by adding the @medtunnel.com extension to the MedTunnel ID. For example, if a patient's MedTunnel ID is "jdoe123" then they can store "jdoe123@medtunnel.com" as the email address in their system. Anytime a message is sent via MedTunnel with either a recipient's or patient's MedTunnel ID having the "@medtunnel.com" extension, the MedTunnel system will automatically strip off the "@medtunnel.com" extension and treat it as a regular MedTunnel ID. A MedTunnel ID with the "@medtunnel.com" extension is not an email address. Email can not be sent to "jdoe123@medtunnel.com".

Is the MedTunnel ID for a patient a unique identifier?

Yes, the MedTunnel ID is unique for every patient and can/should be used as a unique identifier.  One of the problems with healthcare is that there is no universal identifier for a patient.  The patient ID in one provider's system does not match the patient ID in another's system.  As a result, medical documents that are sent between providers have to be manually searched for identifying information like the patient's name and date of birth to try to match the patient in these systems.  If every patient had a MedTunnel ID, then matching patients in separate systems is made much easier.  This is why when providers are sending medical documents to each other, they can optionally enter the MedTunnel ID of the patient whose documents they are sending.  Even if they enter the MedTunnel ID of the patient, this does not mean that the patient also receives the document - they don't.  It is simply there to help the recipient of the document help identify the patient.

For this reason it is important for providers to encourage their patients to join MedTunnel and also to keep the MedTunnel ID of their patients in their records in the same manner they are currently keeping other information like the patient's phone number and email address.  MedTunnel encourages all EMR/EHR vendors to allow for a new field in their patient database to be able to save a patient's MedTunnel ID.  If a current system does not allow for this, providers can store the MedTunnel ID as an email address with "@medtunnel.com" as the extension.  For example, if a patent's MedTunnel ID is "jdoe123" then they can store "jdoe123@medtunnel.com" as the email address in their system.  Anytime a message is sent via MedTunnel with either a recipient or patient's MedTunnel ID having the "@medtunnel.com" extension, then the MedTunnel system will automatically strip off the "@medtunnel.com" extension and treat it as a regular MedTunnel ID.  A MedTunnel ID with the "@medtunnel.com" extension is not an email address.  Email can not be sent to "jdoe123@medtunnel.com".

What is the MedTunnel Desktop app?

MedTunnel Desktop is an app that runs on a Mac or PC and is available for download from our support page.  The MedTunnel Desktop App makes sending and receiving documents simple and seamless and includes two featured components: MedTunnel Print-To-Send and AutoDownloader. 

The Print-To-Send feature shows up as a virtual printer on your system and simply print to this printer and your document is converted to a PDF file that can then be sent by specifying the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  You can also drag-and-drop files you want to send onto the app. 

The AutoDownloader feature will automatically download any documents addressed to you to a folder of your choosing. 

Besides the MedTunnel Desktop app, you can use our web app which is available on any web browser on any platform (including your mobile devices) to send and receive documents. A mobile app for iOS and Android is also available.

Security

Why can’t anyone just email patient documents without MedTunnel?

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed in 1996 mandates that private health information (PHI) must remain secure. As a result, an insecure service like email can not be used to send PHI. Unfortunately, most people are under the incorrect assumption that email is secure. Even if you are logging into an email provider like Gmail and you are connected via SSL (https) this does not mean that your message is being sent securely to your destination. Your message may be sent securely through https to Gmail (Google) but Gmail needs to use Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) to send your message to the destination and SMTP is not secure. This is why no one should send PHI using email - it is not secure, nor is it HIPAA compliant.

How does MedTunnel provide security and HIPAA compliance for documents?

When MedTunnel was being designed, it was decided that security and keeping private health information (PHI) private was of the utmost importance. In fact, it was decided that the security protocol should be such that even a MedTunnel employee, at any level, should not have access to PHI. MedTunnel therefore provides a seamless end-to-end secure conduit through the Internet for PHI delivery. How does MedTunnel accomplish this? All PHI transmitted between the client and the MedTunnel server is encrypted using SSL encryption. Once on the server, all PHI stored in our database or file system is encrypted utilizing AES encryption with two separate keys.  Both keys are required to unencrypt PHI.  Neither key is electronically stored and both keys have to be manually entered into our servers each time the servers launch. The servers store the keys in RAM only. The first key is known only by high-level personnel at MedTunnel. The second key is only known by an independent third party. MedTunnel and the third party are contractually obligated to not reveal their keys to each other.  In this way, the only entity able to unencrypt PHI is the server after both keys are manually entered. Neither MedTunnel personnel or the third party have access to PHI. Since MedTunnel acts as a secure conduit and MedTunnel itself can not access any PHI, according to HHS, a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is not required to use MedTunnel - just like a BAA is not required from the phone company when sending faxes, or a BAA is not required by the postal service when sending a letter.

How does MedTunnel verify the identity of providers?

All group providers will be manually verified by MedTunnel before they are allowed to show up on a search in the MedTunnel system. This is a process done automatically by MedTunnel and may take up to a week from sign-up. Unverified providers can still use the MedTunnel system normally for sending and receiving documents, but they will not show up in the search for providers. Only verified group providers will show up on a search.  Patients, single providers, and unverified group providers can not be searched.

Using MedTunnel

I’m a provider, can I use MedTunnel to send documents to my patients?

Yes - you can do this. You should encourage your patients to sign up for MedTunnel since it is a huge convenience for patients to get their medical documents instantaneously instead of having to drive to the office or wait for a letter in the mail. If you have a patient that requests a document, you can use our Invite function to send them an email invitation to join MedTunnel. After they join, and you try to send a message via their email, you will receive a notification in your MedTunnel mailbox that they are now a MedTunnel user with their MedTunnel ID included.  You can then simply send the document to this MedTunnel ID. Alternatively, if they have not signed up for MedTunnel - you can directly email them a document as long as you tell them a password over the phone that they will need to view the document. For more information on this, please see the FAQ on "Can I send documents to non-MedTunnel users?".

How do I send documents with MedTunnel?

A message which can include text and documents can be sent from your computer or mobile device.

From your computer (Mac or PC): After you log in to the web app using any browser on your computer, simply drag and drop the files you want to send and enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient. On a PC or Mac you can download our desktop app and utilize the Print-To-Send functionality. This will allow MedTunnel to show up as a printer on your system and then you can print to it from any application. This will convert your printing document to a PDF and allow you to enter the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  

From your mobile device: Download our mobile app to your tablet or phone.  After you log in to the mobile app - open compose message, type in any text (if needed), click on the attachments field to select location of document from the drop down menu, then attach desired document(s) from the selected folder. 

How can I view, download, or print messages and documents sent via MedTunnel?

Messages can be viewed, downloaded and printed using either the web app or desktop app on your computer or mobile app from your mobile device.

From your computer (Mac or PC): Viewing, downloading or printing documents can be done in two ways. First, when logged into the web app from your computer, you see a list of messages (which includes any attached documents) in your mailbox. Click on the message to view it.  If your message has attached documents to view - click on one of the attached documents in order to open it in our document viewer. From the viewer you can view and download the document. The second way is through our desktop app  (which runs on any PC or Mac and can be downloaded from our support page) which includes an AutoDownloader feature that you can set up to automatically download your received messages and documents directly to your computer. Messages downloaded by the AutoDownloader are marked as being read by you. Once a document is downloaded, it can then be viewed and printed as you would any other document from your computer.

From your mobile device: Download the mobile app to view, download, and print messages and attached documents directly from your mobile device. It should be noted that in order to print from your mobile device, the device must be mapped to a wireless or mobile print app enabled printer. 

Can I send documents to non-MedTunnel users?

Yes - you can absolutely send messages or documents to non-MedTunnel users.  In order to do so you will need their email address and a password they will know to use in order to view the secure documents.  Typically, the process is as follows: 

1) Place a phone call to the non-MedTunnel user recipient to let them know that, instead of faxing, you are going to send them their patient documents via MedTunnel to their email address.  

2) Determine a password to be used by the recipient.  Since the documents will be sent to this particular non-MedTunnel user for the first time, you and the recipient will pre-determine a password that will be needed in order to view the MedTunnel encrypted documents they are about to receive via their email.  For group account users, this password can be set globally for all messages.  Please note that on future documents you send to the same non-MedTunnel user recipient, the password used previously still applies until you change it by sending a document with a different password.   

3) Send the document to the recipient's email address.  Upon sending the document, the recipient will receive an email with a link to the MedTunnel-encrypted document.  When the recipient clicks the link, they must enter the password (as determined in Step 2) in order to view the document.  While they are viewing the document via the secure MedTunnel server, the recipient will be given the option to sign up to become a MedTunnel user for free.  If they sign up and you send a message to their email address,  you will be sent a notification to your MedTunnel mailbox providing you with their MedTunnel ID which will allow you, from that point on, to send them secure documents directly through MedTunnel without the need for a password.

If I enter a MedTunnel ID under the Patient's MedTunnel ID area when sending a document, does this mean that the patient also receives the document?

No, the patient does not receive the document.  Entering the patient's MedTunnel ID in this field helps the recipient of the message identify the patient in their system since the MedTunnel ID for a patient can be used as a universal identifier.  Please see the FAQ on "Is the MedTunnel ID for a patient a universal identifier?" for more information.

How can I see if a document I sent was read by the recipient?

Each new sent message appears with a blue dot in the Sent Messages Box.  Once it is opened by the recipient the blue dot disappears - which indicates that it was read by the recipient. Additionally, each action on every document is automatically logged by the MedTunnel server. The server actually keeps track of when and by whom each document was viewed. The document history for a document can be viewed by any user from the document viewer in the web app or by touching the log button on the mobile app. 

How long are documents stored on the MedTunnel server?

MedTunnel acts as a secure conduit to transport private health information and not as a permanent repository for documents. Messages, which can include text or documents, are stored for 14 days from the time they are sent - after which time they are automatically erased. This is regardless of whether they have been read or not.   The MedTunnel mobile app caches data from messages and attachments locally on the user's mobile device and they are saved there until the user deletes them.

I already have an EMR/EHR solution, can MedTunnel integrate with this?

Our goal at MedTunnel is to make sending and receiving medical documents simple and easy. You can use our MedTunnel Desktop app which is available for both Mac and PC to send documents from any existing application that can print documents. When you install MedTunnel Desktop app, it installs a printer on your system named MedTunnel. From your EMR/EHR simply print the document you want to send and select the MedTunnel as your destination printer. The MedTunnel printer converts your printing document to a PDF file and then asks you for the document's recipient. On the receiving side, the MedTunnel Desktop app includes an AutoDownloader which automatically saves incoming documents to a folder of your choosing and can then be loaded into your existing EMR/EHR solution. So any EMR/EHR that allows you to print will automatically interface with MedTunnel on the sending side - and any EMR/EHR that allows for incorporation of incoming documents from a watched folder can automatically integrate with MedTunnel from the receiving side. It can do this without any additional programming. If you want deeper integration with your existing system, we at MedTunnel (in cooperation with your EMR/EHR vendor), would be happy to accomplish this for an existing user at no charge. Simply contact us at MedTunnel ID support.

How do mailboxes work for group accounts?

This information is for provider group accounts only and is not pertinent to patients and single providers.  When a provider group signs up for MedTunnel, they need to pick a unique group name.  For example, an imaging center named Valley Imaging Center may pick the group name valleyimaging.  A general mailbox is created automatically for every group and the MedTunnel ID for the general mailbox becomes @groupname so in the case of Valley Imaging Center this would be @valleyimaging.  The general mailbox is like the general fax number for your organization.  It is the MedTiunnel ID that other users will send documents to when they don't know which other MedTunnel ID in your organization to send to.

Users can be added to a group by the administrator of the group.  When a user is added, they must have a username that is unique to a group.  For example, if Valley Imaging Center has an employee named David Thomas, then they may choose davet to be the username.  When a user is created under a group a mailbox is automatically created for them with the MedTunnel ID username@groupname so in this example, David's MedTunnel ID would be davet@valleyimaging.

Optionally, group administrators can create departments manually.  For example, if Valley Imaging Center wants to have all billing related documents sent to a mailbox named billing@valleyimaging, then the administrator can manually create the billing@valleyimaging department and then assign which of their users has access to this mailbox.  Also, the group administrator can give temporary access for a user to any mailbox.  This is useful in case a person goes on vacation and another person needs to have access to their MedTunnel mailbox to view documents.

Can I access MedTunnel from my smart phone or tablet?

Yes. Access your account using the web app from any device with a web browser including your computer and mobile devices.  For even greater convenience on your iPhone or iPad - download the iOS app.  An Android app is coming soon, but even now you can access MedTunnel on Android using a web browser. 

What is the MedTunnel Desktop app?

MedTunnel Desktop is an app that runs on a Mac or PC and is available for download from our support page.  The MedTunnel Desktop App makes sending and receiving documents simple and seamless and includes two featured components: MedTunnel Print-To-Send and AutoDownloader. 

The Print-To-Send feature shows up as a virtual printer on your system and simply print to this printer and your document is converted to a PDF file that can then be sent by specifying the MedTunnel ID of the recipient.  You can also drag-and-drop files you want to send onto the app. 

The AutoDownloader feature will automatically download any documents addressed to you to a folder of your choosing. 

Besides the MedTunnel Desktop app, you can use our web app which is available on any web browser on any platform (including your mobile devices) to send and receive documents. A mobile app for iOS and Android is also available.

After I become a MedTunnel user what is the best way to notify other people that I prefer my documents to be sent and received using MedTunnel instead of fax?

The Invite function is specifically made to give you the option of notifying other people of your preference to use MedTunnel over fax to send and receive messages or documents.  Here is how it works:

1) Log in to your account through through your desktop browser or Mobile App.

2) Click the Invite button.

3) Enter the email addresses of the people you want to notify and click send. 

This sends them your MedTunnel ID as well as an invitation to join MedTunnel.  If they join, a message will automatically be sent to your MedTunnel mailbox with their MedTunnel ID. 

What are the benefits of providers encouraging all patients to get a MedTunnel ID?

There are a couple of key benefits to encouraging all patients to have a MedTunnel ID. Many providers may want to encourage this at the time of their next appointment or even allow them to create one during their appointment since it only takes a minute or two. The first benefit is that providers can now easily send medical documents such as labs and reports to their patients and keep them informed about their health.  The second benefit is a more efficient healthcare system. One of the challenges of healthcare is that there is no universal identifier for a patient. The patient ID in one provider's system does not match the patient ID in another provider's system. As a result, medical documents that are sent between providers have to be manually searched for identifying information like the patient's name and date of birth to try to match the patient in these systems. If every patient had a MedTunnel ID, which is a unique identifier, then matching patients in separate systems is made much easier. Please see the FAQ on "Is a MedTunnel ID for a patient a unique identifier?" for more information.

For patients, MedTunnel provides a more convenient way to access their providers.  For example, the practice may create a MedTunnel ID at "appointments@group" for patients to be able to schedule appointments without the need for a phone call.