[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Clinical Crossroads
Clinician's Corner
November 10, 2004

A 67-Year-Old Man Who e-Mails His Physician

Author Affiliations

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.

JAMA. 2004;292(18):2255-2261. doi:10.1001/jama.292.18.2255

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.