What a Patient Said to Me When He Found Out I Manage a Physician Practice


He said, “I’m looking for a doctor that uses email.”  He said he would not use a doctor that doesn’t use email because he doesn’t have the time to fool around on the phone when he needs an appointment or has a question.  Of course, in the practice, we don’t have time to fool around on the phone either, and we’d LOVE to do everything via email, but this is something that seems hard to implement.


  1. Everyone (including me) is uncertain about privacy and HIPAA when communicating with patients electronically.
  2. Everyone (including me) worries about the liability issues related to electronic communication with patients.  How do you index it on the EMR?  Do you print it out if you’re using paper charts?
  3. Systems that are designed to facilitate email with patients seem limited and restricted as to specific uses like making appointments.
  4. Managers worry that email opens the door to patient communication falling through the cracks when we/they are already working very hard to keep that from happening.
  5. Most wonder if it is worth adopting technology early when it’s expensive and untried.
  6. Most wonder how many patients would really communicate electronically if given the chance.

If you could design a safe, low-risk system to communicate electronically with your patients, what would be the uses for this system? What are your communication logjams? Are you aware of or using any systems that have cracked the electronic communication conundrum?

Here’s another article on doctors using email: Why Doctors Don’t Email Patients.

Photo by Andi Berger/Dreamstime.com

Posted in: Innovation

Leave a Comment (2) ↓


  1. LindaC October 9, 2008

    You know what we are really in a twist about is to whom can we send patient-specific data via email (i.e. for claims resolution) and how do we secure those emails? Also, what about our folks who are now pushing work emails to their PDA’s? What if patient-specific data lands on a hand-held device and it goes bad? Do we have to get a Business Agreement (HIPAA) with Verizon? Sorry so many questions without answers, but this is the content of our IT meetings lately. Great post!

  2. George February 8, 2009

    Hi. Nice article. HIPAA is an issue, but we use an on line communication service, http://www.housedoc.us, that’s HIPAA compliant, free, and easy to use. Using email is much easier than the phone.