[MOL] Doctor-Patient E-Mail...... [00192] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Doctor-Patient E-Mail......

Medical Practice Communicator

Guidelines For Doctor-Patient E-Mail

[Medical Practice Communicator 7(2):12, 2000. 2000 HMI Inc.]

The American Medical Informatics Association recently published guidelines for physician-patient e-mail in the context of an established relationship. Guidelines for using e-mail in a clinical setting address two interrelated aspects: effective interaction between the clinician and patient and observing medicolegal prudence.

Summary of Communication Guidelines

  • Discuss explicitly the use of e-mail

  • Establish turn-around time expectations for messages

  • Inform patients about each person who may see the messages

  • Discuss policies for managing messages at off-hour and vacation times

  • Use an auto-reply feature and encourage patients to do the same

  • Tell patients to avoid e-mail for urgent matters, and explain why

  • Establish the types of transactions for which e-mail may be used (for example, scheduling appointments and refilling prescriptions)

  • Remind patients to identify themselves explicitly in the body of the message

  • Print all messages and include them in the patient's chart
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