Clinical Crossroads Section Editor: Margaret
A. Winker, MD, Deputy Editor.
Author Affiliation: Dr Slack is Professor of
Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Co-Director, Division of Clinical Computing,
Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
DR SHIP: Mr S
is a 67-year-old retired public service worker who lives in the Boston area
with his wife. He has Medicare and indemnity insurance.
Approximately 4 months ago, Mr S started to communicate by e-mail with
his hospital-based primary care physician Dr G, using the hospital’s
secure Internet site for patients. Previously, Mr S would call his physician
with questions and leave a message. He now finds electronic communication
both easier and faster. He has not encountered problems with this form of
communication and has few concerns about privacy. Mr S tries to keep his e-mails
brief because he feels that his physician’s time is valuable. Mr S understands
that it takes time for his physician to respond to e-mail questions and says
he would be willing to pay additionally for this. However, he is not sure
how much such service is worth.
Slack WV. A 67-Year-Old Man Who e-Mails His Physician. JAMA. 2004;292(18):2255-2261. doi:10.1001/jama.292.18.2255