Email has been a routine communication channel for so long that the majority of us use it on a daily basis without question. Healthcare professionals are among the last of service providers to not utilize email as a form of communication with the people they serve. But in the healthcare field, emailing practices between physicians and patients is a controversial discussion.
It can be argued that utilizing electronic communication is vital in developing relationships between a doctor and his/her patient, while allowing for open communication. Others worry about legalities that may arise with the lack of privacy that often accompanies online emailing.
Those in support of physicians emailing with patients state that it is beneficial when scheduling appointments, eliminating the frustration of phone tag. Using email improves efficiency and allows doctors to make themselves readily available to patients when a visit isn’t necessary, but medical advice or discussions is required.
Opponents dispute the positives of emailing in the healthcare field, stating that emailing has the potential to cause an array of legal issues. Privacy of emails and the possibility of hackers is a major concern among many. Some also insist that electronic communication between doctors and patients is no way to practice medicine. While emailing back and forth, a doctor misses out on necessary body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. that is typically witnessed during an in-person doctor’s consultation; appropriate and accurate care can suffer as a result.
Because an array of legal problems can arise, only engaging in email communication on an extremely limited basis could be a compromise. Sticking purely to scheduling appointments or sending test results, while making sure not to reveal any confidential medical information.
Email seems to be an inevitable part of doing business. Do you think that healthcare should adapt to the extreme popularity of electronic communication to build bonding relationships between doctors and patients or continue to communicate traditionally, avoiding security and legal issues?