American College of Physicians Ethical Guidance for Electronic Patient-Physician Communication: Aligning Expectations

J Gen Intern Med. 2020 Sep;35(9):2715-2720. doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-05884-1. Epub 2020 Jun 22.


Communication is critical to strong patient-physician relationships and high-quality health care. In recent years, advances in health information technology have altered how patients and doctors interact and communicate. Increasingly, e-communication outside of in-person clinical encounters occurs in many ways, including through e-mail, patient-portals, texting, and messaging applications. This American College of Physicians (ACP) position paper provides ethics and professionalism guidance for these forms of e-communication to help maintain trust in patient-physician relationships and the profession and alignment between patient and physician expectations.

Keywords: electronic communication; electronic health records; ethics; medical education; patient-doctor communication; patient-physician relationship; professionalism.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Electronic Mail
  • Electronics
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians*
  • United States