Communication

Peter Forster About GPS, GPS Update

CommunicationI love email. Really. It has allowed me to communicate much more effectively with my patients.  And the ability to have that kind of relationship with the people we see is very important to me.

However, I have recently been feeling overwhelmed by email communication. I am also aware that email is not a secure way of discussing confidential information.

Email considerations.

If you are a patient at Gateway you may have noticed a new “footer” for our emails.

Email is inherently insecure. By continuing this conversation you consent to such an exchange. I strongly encourage everyone to use Virtru which makes email much safer. If you are a patient you understand that you may be billed for email consultations. I encourage you to use the Online Office resources at gatewaypsychiatric.com to get faster replies and to avoid being billed. And please note –  I often reply the following morning to emails. 

This is all important stuff to consider when sending an email.

Too much of a good thing.

Keeping up with email has become unmanageable. And that is the reason for the focus on using the resources on this website under the “Online Office” tab.

I have been getting 5 to 6 clinical emails per hour that I have been trying to answer between sessions, while at the same time finishing my note from that session and preparing for the next visit. It is not workable.

And many of these emails could have been handled easily using the information and forms at “Online Office.”

A couple of examples,

  • This past week I got 5 emails from patients asking when their appointment was going to be. In all but one of these cases, I was able to confirm that the patient had previously received an email notification when the appointment was scheduled, so they just had to search their inbox to find the date and time.
  • I received a couple of emails along the lines of, “I am out of my meds.” These from people on more than one medication and, in some cases, people who had gone to more than one pharmacy to get prescriptions… so that quick email from their iPhone was the beginning of a back and forth of four or five emails before I could send in the prescription.

To encourage people to use the Online Office resources I am going to try to answer messages I get through the Online Office on the same day, and I will avoid charging for the refills, and scheduling, and medication and billing questions that come in that way, unless they are very complicated issues. 

Some questions can’t be handled by using Online Office, particularly complicated clinical questions, and some people may choose not to use the forms. In those cases you can expect that-

  • You will get an answer the next morning, when there is time to catch up on emails, unless it is a clinically urgent question.
  • You will be charged for the time it takes to answer unless it is a question that can be answered with a single one or two line email reply.

I don’t know if this will work but I hope that the result of this change in practice will be that I will have enough time to continue delivering excellent care, and enough time to continue to be available for important communication between sessions.