Email has been so commonplace for so long that some people consider it nearly obsolete. But in the health-care profession, its use for communications between doctors and their patients is still controversial.
Opponents worry that doctors can’t read patients by reading their emails. Important signals can be missed, they say, when doctors can’t see their patients’ facial expressions, hear the tone of their voices or take note of their body language, and care can suffer as a result.
They’re also concerned about the security of email communications, as well as doctors’ potential liability for the content and results of email exchanges.
Others say email is a valuable tool in building a relationship between doctor and patient. It makes doctors more accessible, they say, and allows a more thorough exchange of information than the traditional office visits and phone calls.
The security and liability risks, they say, can be managed, and shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of providing an important service for patients.