E-signing and digital signing have become increasingly common in recent years, a process which has only been accelerated by the pandemic. But what are the implications of this for your clinic? What is the difference between a digital and a physical signature? Can a digital signature actually replace a physical one for legal and compliance?
The short answer is yes - in Europe, thanks to the eIDAS regulation, we have a legal platform that allows the cross border usage and validation of electronic signatures. Under this regulation all signature types are treated equally in court.
Digital signatures provide authenticity and ensure that the signer’s identity is verified. This can stand in any court of law like any other signed paper document. By choosing a solution that is compliant to the relevant regulation, you ensure yourself to be compliant to these legal requirements.
Beyond this legal compliance, just how does a digital signature compare to a physical one? It turns out that digital signatures are now more reliable and secure than handwritten ones.
We are all aware that no two versions of our own handwritten signatures are ever quite the same - a signature is inherently unique each time it is created. Whilst handwritten signatures have traditionally been viewed as a legal basis for verification, in the modern era the uniqueness of every version of a signature means that they are too easy to access, to tamper with or copy, and too slow to gather on a document to be considered truly safe or secure.
By contrast, digital signatures are now regarded as highly secure. The process of digital signing provides a timestamped interaction from a verifiable device, location & identity credential which is permanently embedded within the document.
In this way, a digital signature is really a process of verification rather than a single event like a physical signature. It is only when the details of when, where and who has created and who has ‘signed’ the document have been verified that the process is regarded as complete and the signature is valid. This makes forgery and tampering almost impossible and something that requires a significant effort.
Digital signatures also offer further security and information, such as who has accessed a document, and when and where this took place. They are immediately shareable and will not degrade or fade over time so they become a permanent record of a decision being made and agreed.
With the additional cost savings that are delivered by stripping out the need to physically sign documents, and the huge time saving that is also offered, and the security of storage and backing up, it is clear that digital signing is not only an effective substitute for physical signing of documents such as treatment plans, consents and payment plans, it is a significant enhancement and represents that safest and most secure way for your business to operate in the digital era.
So, in short, a digital signature is more secure, more reliable, more easily shared and more efficient than a physical signature. Our attachment to physical signatures is driven by sentiment and tradition rather than logic and business acumen. The smart decision for your clinic and your customers is to make the move to a digital signing solution at your earliest opportunity.
For more information on how Aerona can support the digital transformation of your clinic, contact our Success Team today.