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Setting boundaries and appropriate processes for handling e-mail correspondence with patients can address many of the concerns urologists have about e-mailing patients.
What are the benefits of patient-to-doctor e-mail? First and foremost, many patients would prefer to use e-mail to communicate non-urgent issues such as prescription renewals, setting appointments, and getting basic information about your services. Naturally, staying in step with patient preferences where possible helps keep patients happy and your practice's reputation positive.
More practically, though, you might also find e-mail communication saves valuable time. For example, let's say a patient would like to know whether you perform vasectomies, and if so, what the lead time for scheduling is. Handling this type of question by e-mail can save you time and money because you can delay responding until after your appointment schedule is completed (or even have a nurse handle it for you).
Accepting this sort of contact via your Web site is also a marketing tool. For many time-strapped patients searching for a urologist, the ability to get in touch via an e-mail form on your site could determine whether you or another local physician gets the inquiry.
You might even find some patients asking general questions such as, "Is Viagra off-limits for a patient with diabetes?" to break the ice on subjects they might find embarrassing to talk about. Even if the follow-up must be by phone, the opportunity to ask via e-mail might encourage patients to pursue health questions they might otherwise avoid.