Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Doctors debate use of email for communicating with their patients

Doctors-using-email
January 26, 2012
  • By Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

About the Author

photo of Patrick J. Skerrett

Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Pat Skerrett is the editor of STAT's First Opinion and host of the First Opinion podcast. He is the former editor of the Harvard Health blog and former Executive Editor of Harvard Health Publishing. Before that, he was editor of … See Full Bio
View all posts by Patrick J. Skerrett

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Comments

Agus
March 19, 2012

E-mail should not be used because it can be a very genuine and will not concern the reliability of the e-mail. at least momentarily, the use of email will likely come down to individual personal preference, to the physician and all of us. but it is better to immediately fulfill with our physician.

kalyani
March 5, 2012

hi
This article is very interest and i got new thing.Through email also communicating patients really nice idea.

dr All
February 25, 2012

Its like two side of a coin.it definitely has its pro and con to communicate with email.i personally realise that those client you get that close to are the likely ones to put you as a professional in trouble.litigations is so much on the increase in medical practise.so i am not in support

Michel John
February 25, 2012

Hi,
You post an Essential & emergency treatment service. I like your article, Thank you for given this Essential service.
Thanks
Michel John

February 6, 2012

There are several services out there now that allows Doctors to actually speak with a patient via (their own platform). They can speak to a doctor and in most cases, even receive a prescription over the phone. There are even services that have applied the use of the iPhone4, iPad 2, and any Front Facing camera to allow the patient to call a doctor via video conferencing.

Emails should not be used as it can be very illegitimate and it would question the credibility of the Email.

February 6, 2012

When eliciting health-related assessment information, then of course Dr. Bierstock’s assertions are accurate. Face to face encounters are often critical in order to elicit sensitive information and to observe subtle behavior.

Razism
February 6, 2012

Health is Wealth

evan
January 26, 2012

There are several services out there now that allows Doctors to actually speak with a patient via (their own platform). They can speak to a doctor and in most cases, even receive a prescription over the phone. There are even services that have applied the use of the iPhone4, iPad 2, and any Front Facing camera to allow the patient to call a doctor via video conferencing.

Emails should not be used as it can be very illegitimate and it would question the credibility of the Email.

Bloxorz 2
January 26, 2012

Email for communicating with patients? Sorry but are you kidding? Now email, then skype and whole communicating will be virtual. You think this is right? I don’t think so. Alex

aek (@aek2013 on Twitter)
January 26, 2012

This is not an either/or proposition. A successful physician/patient relationship requires the right type of communication in the right setting at the right time. Context matters.

The uses you described allow both patient and physician to attend to the relevant information in a timely manner without disrupting either’s scheduled appointments and demands.

When eliciting health-related assessment information, then of course Dr. Bierstock’s assertions are accurate. Face to face encounters are often critical in order to elicit sensitive information and to observe subtle behavior.

However, increasingly, direct encounters do not result in physicians actually looking at their patients. They are looking away and at screens or other equipment. He may want to visit this issue as a priority before focusing on the limits of email communication.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

Harvard Women's Health Watch

What’s your most important health concern? Chances are, you’ll find an article discussing it in a recent issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Are you at risk for heart disease? If you eat a balanced diet, are supplements necessary? Will new drugs help prevent breast cancer? Can simple exercises like stretching and walking have a noticeable impact on my health? Subscribe now for answers to questions like these!

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.