The Pros and Cons of E-Communication | The American Resident Project

Great topic and initial list of some of the benefits and downsides to communicating with patient through electronic means. I think they missed one major one.

  • Potential for misunderstanding. Written communication is asynchronous and limited in scope and length. This means there is tremendous potential for miscommunication. Verbal cues such as tone are absent. Visual cues, namely body language,  are also absent. A doctor can't see a patient's confused face and know to use less jargon or go deeper. A patient can't hear the seriousness of the doctor's tone. Neither party can easily ask follow-up questions.

Electronic forms of communication will absolutely be part of the future in medicine. However, we must be vigilant for misunderstanding. Many of us are not great communicators in written form; many of us don't read carefully enough. There will always be a place for face-to-face communication between doctor and patient.