A randomized study of electronic mail versus telephone follow-up after emergency department visit

J Emerg Med. 2003 Feb;24(2):125-30. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(02)00739-4.


This study was conducted to determine whether electronic mail (e-mail) increases contact rates after patients are discharged from the emergency department (ED). Following discharge, patients were randomized to be contacted by telephone or e-mail. The main outcome was success of contact. Secondary outcome was the median time of response. There were 1561 patients initially screened. Of these, 444 had e-mail and were included in the study. Half were contacted by telephone and the rest via e-mail. Our telephone contact rate was 58% (129/222) after two calls in a 48-h period and our e-mail contact was 41% (90/222). The telephone was nearly two times better than e-mail. The median time of response was 48 h for e-mail and 18 h for telephone. It is concluded that the telephone is a better modality of contact than e-mail for patients discharged from the ED.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare / standards*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Continuity of Patient Care / standards*
  • Electronic Mail*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge
  • Telephone*