Pros and Cons of Email Communication with Patients and Families

As is the case with almost all technologies, the trick is find the right balance in order to utilize them to their full advantage while avoiding the potential pitfalls that usually accompany an over-dependence upon technology. That’s especially true in the digital age, when tools like email are commonplace. But there are also many people who advocate more emphasis on old-fashioned face-to-face communication, particularly when it comes to the relationship between health care providers and patients.

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  • Health care providers should definitely leverage the power and convenience of email communication, for example, but should so thoughtfully and strategically. Of course, confidentiality and privacy of patient information is of paramount importance, so the first step is to make sure that nothing that falls into that category is ever transmitted by email.
  • Even if the patient or family requests it, you have to be consistent in the implementation of those rules and safeguards.

The way to use email with patients is for such things as reminding them of upcoming appointments or to acknowledge the receipt of a question or patient records.

  • That saves both you and the patient time and aggravation and can help prevent the hassle of inadvertently missed office visits. You should also use email to convey instructions such as those related to fasting prior to taking lab work blood samples. Email also provides an excellent tool for sending invoices or reminders to make timely payments.   ·
  • But keep emails short and to the point. More in-depth dialog should occur in person, so that you can more effectively explain procedures, make your diagnosis, and evaluate the overall health and wellness of the patient or address the concerns of family members.

One of the best uses of email these days is to send health and wellness newsletters to patients. You can do this on a monthly, quarterly, or seasonal basis. These communication tools help to build and maintain rapport with the patient, and if the patient shares the tips and information you include that can be a valuable marketing asset, too. There are also affordable but powerful software programs that help you create attractive email templates for basic emails or for newsletters, and many of them have features that let you track metrics such as how many people read them and which patients responded to them or forwarded them on to their friends and family.

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