Electronic Mail Communication in Healthcare


Communication is a very essential factor in life of every person because it enables people to share their thoughts, caution, and advice, instruct, command and at least pass information to the other person. In health centers, there has been written and verbal (face-to-face and telephone) communications for several years since they were the only core mechanisms for communicating health information (Mandl, Katz & Kohane, 2000). However, in recent years there has been advancement in technology and Internet applications for communication between patients and physicians as well as among the physicians, which has become the main reliable avenue for patient communication. E-mail in particular has taken a rising significance as a mode of communication that is readily accessible to patients and health care professionals (Lindberg & Humphreys, 1998).

Benefit of E-mail

The use of E-mail has several benefits to healthcare services. One of the main benefits of E-mail is that it permits for follow-up health care and explanation of advice issued in a professional office setting. E-mail is very useful to convey information the patient would have to entrust to write, if it were given verbally (American Medical Association). This means that some patients are shy or have poor verbal communication skills that do not allow them to communicate face-to-face with a physician and convey exactly what they want or what they feel. However, since they are good illustrators of information through writing, they opt to employ e-mail where they can express themselves well and in a gradual manner. Examples of services offered under e-mail include addresses and telephone numbers of other features to which the patient is submitted.

Patient Confidentiality

E-mail is one of the best aspects of conveying information privately since it is a communication done between two people; a patient and a physician where the patient has his or her own password to gain access to personal e-mail. The physician on the other hand also has his or her own e-mail with a personal password where nobody else can access; therefore, it ensures appropriate patient confidentiality (American Medical Association). Besides, the physician can access information at his own private time or, when free where there are no disturbances hence ensuring enough privacy of information. Either this is much far better than verbal communication through telephone or one-on-one where confidentiality and privacy is rare because this is mostly done in health centers that have several people both patients, nurses and physicians.

Effectiveness of E-mail

One of the main reasons why electronic mail is an effective mode of communication between a patient and a physician is that it enhances confidentiality of information and it is accessed from anywhere there is Internet and computer (Lindberg & Humphreys, 1998). A patient may be at home heavily pressed by a disease to extent of being unable to walk or drive to the hospital, thus he or she may communicate to the physician through electronic mail and inform him about his or her condition. The doctor will be able to know how to help the patient. Communicating through telephone is not effective because frequently, it is the secretary who peaks calls meaning that it may be conveyed to the physician as second-hand information, which is not confidential. Thus, in such a case no privacy is enhanced at all (Mandl, Katz & Kohane, 2000).

Difference of E-mail from other modes of Communication in Health care

Electronic mail is much effective than the other modes of communication in health care. First, it differs greatly from one-on-one communication because, as mentioned, several patients attend hospitals which makes it difficult to reach the physician and have a humble time to communicate to them as wished. This is because the line is long and all the patients want to see one physician thus each patient has a minimum of say twenty minutes to see and talk to the doctor. Through E-mail however, a patient can take the whole day to write down all he feels and want to pass to the doctor for treatment or advice (American Medical Association). Therefore, through e-mail, an individual has a humble time to convey all their wishes to the physician while through verbal communication; patients have limited time to communicate to the physicians.

Through telephone, it is the same case because physicians are most of the time busy attending to patients and have no time to receive calls meaning that the call may be received by someone else, and passed to physician as second-hand information. In such case, there is no confidentiality and privacy but through e-mail, confidentiality is ultimate as well as privacy of the information because nobody can access the e-mail of another person without their concern or knowledge (Lindberg & Humphreys, 1998).

The Essence of Media and Social Networking in changing Health care communication

First, it should be clear that electronic mail cannot function without media, which encompasses technology and the use of computers while social networking cannot work without computers and technology. Therefore, all of them work consistently to provide effective communication in health care. Computers are basic means of communication as far as media is concerned because social network is connected to them thus they enhance communication. Through media and social network, healthcare centers are able to carry out their operations effectively because social networking enables communication between physicians through which they can refer or confirm some issues concerning their operations with each other.

At the same time, social network also enable contact between the patient and physician using websites or electronic mail, which is mostly efficient. Other than communication, media is helpful particularly computers which help in taking patient records and managing drug and store records, and functionality (American Medical Association).

The Use of E-mail in marketing Healthcare Products and Services

Electronic mail can be effective in marketing healthcare services and products because they allow sending of bulky messages where the physician or director of the Health care can send more than hundred mails to hundred different people in different areas. The mail may contain all the information concerning products and services of health care (Mandl, Katz & Kohane, 2000). This same email may be sent to hundred other people and others again and again and eventually more than 10,000 people would acquire the same. This is a good way of marketing health care products and services because they reach the targeted persons effectively and as first-hand information thus promoting operations of the health care (Lindberg & Humphreys, 1998).


American Medical Association (2010). Guidelines for Physician-Patient Electronic Communication. Advocacy Resources, JAMA, New York.

Lindberg DAB, Humphreys BL., (1998). Medicine and health on the Internet: the good, the bad, and the ugly. JAMA.; 280:1303-1304.

Mandl KD, Katz SB, Kohane IS, (2000). Social equity and access to the World Wide Web and e-mail: implications for design and implementation of medical applications. Proc AMIA Annu Fall Symp.

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