A lot of physicians feel that emailing patients can become time consuming, issues of privacy and security and becoming so readily available which could create expectations of constant accessibility. Some other concerns are that a patient may feel the need to email their physician rather than come in for an office visit and want the issue resolved over the computer instead of a face to face visit with the physician.Other physicians have positive things to say about emailing patients. Some find it convenient. One physician said that it removed a great deal of his day to day burden and made it quick and easy to respond to patients questions. Lack of reimbursement for this back and forth emailing between a patient and physician is a concern as well. On the other hand, physicians report spending time playing phone tag with a patient, which is not reimbursable, is not factored into the comparison between emails and phone calls.When physicians do reach a patient by phone, that conversation usually can last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. With an email, it could take a matter of 2-3 minutes to type out a brief and to the point response to a patient.It’s wise to word emails carefully before sending. An additional concern is that emails might get lost or deleted prior to receipt of the intended party. For this reason, it’s advisable that providers request an autoreply from patients to acknowledge receipt of the message. A poll was taken that showed that 90% of people would like to communicate with their physician over email and 56% indicate that having the ability to email a physician influenced their choice in physician.Patients have also commented that they feel that email brings the doctor into their home and they don’t have to worry about missing a phone call. It’s especially helpful when a patient is out of town or traveling in a time zone that is different and that makes it difficult to connect by phone.Email should never be used for urgent matters. This should be handled by phone and in person. When emails are sent to the physician they should be documented by printing out a hard copy of the email or place it in their electronic chart for future reference. Never release your patient’s email addresses to third parties and double check all “To” and Cc” fields before sending emails. Mistakes happen every day.Use email only with established patients. The patient should have already come in for a face to face appointment and you’ve established a patient doctor relationship before corresponding by email. Email can never be a forum for building a new patient relationship.