Doctors Using E-mail: Helpful or Harmful?

23 Apr

Second Nature Communication

Using electronic communication is so prevalent in our society that it is difficult for us to consider it off-limits for doctors, let alone any profession. Everyone from children in grade school to business professionals regularly use e-mail. The question is whether communication online between physicians and patients will make the relationship more or less efficient than solely using verbal communication. Decide whether you value faster communication over maximum medical privacy.

Miscommunication

Whether you realize it or not, simply walking into a doctor’s office is a significant part of diagnosis. If the doctor can’t see your face when you are explaining the problem, they will miss crucial hints such has facial expressions and tone of voice that can be helpful. The doctor is also looking to interpret your body language and reactions. Through e-mail, crucial information pertaining to your diagnosis can be missed. After a doctor directs you to take a prescription or follow a certain regimen, it is also crucial that you are visible to ensure your health is improving. Patients can react negatively to news that is delivered through e-mail and panic without receiving proper explanation. E-mail can also be easily misinterpreted. There is also a fear of security and liability associated with sending e-mails to patients. More than one person could have access to a particular e-mail, and read a message that was only meant for the patient.

Making Our Lives Easier

On the other hand, e-mail has the potential to make doctors much more accessible. It will allow for a faster exchange of information than a visit to the office or a phone call. E-mail can even improve the quality of care provided to you. Frequent communication results in a stronger relationship between you and your doctor through constant communication. We can all relate to the difficulty that often arises in finding a desirable appointment with your doctor. With e-mail it is much easier to schedule appointments quickly. Many appointments, in fact, don’t require in-person communication.  These appointments include prescription refills and questions about drug dosages. If privacy is a concern, phone calls have the same risks as e-mail; there is no reason to rule out electronic communication over phone communication. In addition, there are so many options of doctors out there that more attention increases patient loyalty and likelihood of staying with the same doctor.

E-mail is a frequently used medium for communication in the business world today. However, there are advantages and disadvantages of e-mail that should be considered, especially among physicians.

by Eliza Budd

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204124204577152860059245028.html

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