Would you e-mail your doctor?

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 4/25/2008 10:35 AM (GMT -7)   
An article on doctors reluctance to e-mail/accept e-mail from patients.  Personally, I'd MUCH rather get an e-mail than talk to someone on the phone.  Because I either have to get a phone call at work or my doctor will leave a message for me to call on the machine at home and then I have to call from work--because I'm never at home when doctors' offices are open--and then you run the risk of everyone overhearing you.  I'd rather get an e-mail to my personal account reminding me of an appointment or telling me my bloodwork was fine--and have a return address (even just through a nurse) where I could request refills on my standard medicines or make an appointment.
Funny, in this age of practical cell phone implantation, I'm a phone phobe.  LOL.  How do others feel?  Maybe if more people said, hey, I want to be able to e-mail your office, more doctors would be cool with it.  Personally, I think it's less private to have to talk over a phone than to get an e-mail. 

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 4/25/2008 11:33 AM (GMT -7)   
I was thinking just this earlier this morning. I was trying to get in contact with the nurse at my gynecologist's office (because I knew I wouldn't be able to contact the doctor) and had one heck of a time just getting in touch with her. It took a few days before I finally managed to get through because I called yesterday and couldn't get through to her.

If I could've just e-mailed them at least I would have felt satisfied that I'd said something. However, they couldn't ask me questions to get more specific information or confirm appointments with me then and there so it is sort of inconvenient. I'm not at my e-mail 24/7 (although my sister seems to think so!), so it might not be until the next day that I'd reply and vice versa. Not to mention that if e-mail were accepted, they'd probably have their inboxes flooded every day. So while I share your sentiment in regards to e-mail, I also can't help but think that it'd probably take just as long, if not longer than phone conversations. That, and they can probably get a better sense of how you're feeling or how urgent the issue is from your voice than from e-mail.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 4/25/2008 11:57 AM (GMT -7)   
I e-mail my doc all the time, but it's a slightly different relationship since he was one of my faculty members. What it comes down to is this: IF your doctor gives you his/her e-mail, it should be used sparingly, and NOT for any questions regarding new symptoms. It is absolutely vital that a physician see a patient in the office for an actual exam. I cannot stress this enough. No physician should EVER be doing phone consults with patients, prescribing medications, etc. over the phone unless there is some unique, dire circumstance.

Regarding the more logistical things like appointment scheduling, etc. I would say e-mailing the doctor's office regarding appointment times, etc. would be a nice, convenient thing sometimes.

I don't think that results of tests should ever be sent over e-mail.
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Please always remember to consult your medical professional regarding your medical questions; this forum is intended to provide patient-to-patient support. Although some of us have healthcare backgrounds, we cannot diagnose or treat patients on the board.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1451
   Posted 4/25/2008 12:04 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't have Kaiser but here in N. California and I imagine other Kaiser places my friends email their Doctor all the time. Not about unnecessary things but when they have to and they get an answer back very soon. It is the only time I am envious of them. My Gastro Dr. will allow emails but you have to sign up for it and he charges $25 to answer which to me is really CS and don't ask me what that is cause it would get bleeped. There was a site you could go to that would fax your Doctor free and I used that a couple times but it has gone. It was very handy since I don't have a fax. Frankly I don't know how doctors really have time to read emails. My Doctor has said he is seldom on the computer as he is too tired by the time he gets thru for the day to even look on the computer. I know he usually does a 12 hour day at least so Ican blame him. Some people would really abuse it but I would love it.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 4/25/2008 1:12 PM (GMT -7)   
<<Frankly I don't know how doctors really have time to read emails. My Doctor has said he is seldom on the computer as he is too tired by the time he gets thru for the day to even look on the computer.>>

The thing the article pointed out was that e-mail is actually faster for doctors than calling patients--which is something they have to do at no charge already.

But, I'm not really even interested in e-mailing my doctor; I'd just like to be able to e-mail the nurse. That's who I end up talking to on the phone, unless I'm making an appointment.

I don't have a problem with getting non-serious test results through e-mail. Just a "hey, bloodwork was fine." Shoot, the vast majority of the time I never get so much as a call or regular letter, so if e-mailing the all clear sign is more reliable, then I'm all for it. I'd not even care to get an e-mail like "Your bloodwork was fine, but your iron was a little on the low side. You might look into take a supplement and see if that makes you feel better." To me, that's not something that someone needs to tell me in person. Now, if the test results were something that needs prescription medicine invertention, or is something scary (like a diangosis of cancer or crohn's or something life-altering like that), then I would want to be called and talk to my doctor directly, or go in for a visit and find out in person. I'd want to be able to ask questions about new medicine orally, or I'd want bad news broken in person. But most people's labwork and test results are all clear, so why not get that in an e-mail?

I'm not paranoid about anyone getting my medical information via e-mail. I don't have anything wrong with me that I'd want to hide. But I can see people with AIDS or TB or something like that not wanting some people to know, and I think they certainly should not be made to get their medical information by e-mail. But, like I said, I feel more self-conscious talking about it over the phone, because I can only do it at work. And the number one dr. I have to really talk to and ask questions of is my gyno. That's embarrassing if anyone overhears!

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 263
   Posted 4/25/2008 7:53 PM (GMT -7)   
I think it is a great idea Keriamon! I have to call my new Gastros nurse every 2 weeks and check in. I would think it would be easier for myself and her to e-mail. She could stop reading emails and assist Dr. alot easier then taking calls all day. Also I havent called yet been going every week sad but I am afraid it is going to be phone tag. I would think it would be easier to get to the point when typing, I have a habit of getting off the subject when I talk yeah Also both Dr. and patient would have a written record of syptoms etc. Because I have so many different reactions to so many things right now I forget half of them when talking. I always try to write down my questions before I go in or call amyway. Im going to ask if we have it here. But I vote yea on e-mail. Then the nurse could show to Dr. instead of repeating or writing down to see if you need to come in.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 4/26/2008 8:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey Keriamom - I didn't have time to read the article yet but I really wanted to email my doc for the same reason is you. I work in a law firm from 8:30-5 during the summer and do not have an office but rather my desk is in an open area with people passing through. The bathrooms are multi-stall and the lunch room has people going in and out. I was in a Crohns flare and trying new meds. My doc was more than happy to do check ins with me over the phone instead of in the office because there was nothing more he could do in person. But, I had no easy way to discuss my bowel movements with him at work. I ended up talking in a basement stairwell once, on the street corner once, and in the parking lot of a grocery store. I chose the street corner because I decided I would rather strangers here about my bowels than my coworkers. My doctor agreed that I could email the office and asked his receptionist to set it up for me. However, his office manager refused to allow it. Later, I read an article in our local bar journal about doctors being afraid of using email because of liability. Their concern wasn't so much privacy but rather it was a concrete record of everything the patient told the doctor and vice versa and could be used in malpractice hearings. What is in your record is from your doctors point of view, not the patients. With email it is like recording all your phone conversations or office visits. After his OM said no, he agreed to call me after 6, even if it meant he was calling me from his cell.

26 Year old married female law student.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid.  For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn.  I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13.  I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium.  Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night.  I alos take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.

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