Opportunities to enhance patient and physician e-mail contact

Int J Med Inform. 2003 Apr;70(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/s1386-5056(03)00007-8.


The purpose of our study was to evaluate how e-mail is currently used between physicians and patients in an integrated delivery system, and to identify developments that might promote increased use of this form of communication. A paper-based survey questionnaire was administered to 94 primary care physicians. We evaluated the role e-mail currently plays in a physician's typical work day, physician views on the impact of e-mail on phone use and the barriers to increasing the use of e-mail with patients. 76% of physicians surveyed responded. All respondents currently use e-mail. Close to 75% of physicians use e-mail with their patients, but the vast majority do so with only 1-5% of those patients. 50% of physicians believe that up to 25% of their patients would send e-mail to them if given the option, with an additional 37% believing that between 25% and 50% of patients would value this option. The main reported barriers to physician-patient e-mail related to workload, security and payment. Our survey findings indicate that with adequate pre-screening, triage, and reimbursement mechanisms physicians would be open to substantially increasing e-mail communication with patients.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication
  • Electronic Mail*
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United Kingdom