Effective E-mails: 3 Tips for Physicians, Managers

January 20, 2015

Many medical practice staff members, managers, and physicians struggle when attempting to communicate effectively via e-mail. Here are some suggestions.

As medical practice managers and recruiters, we hear the constant refrain of over-communicate versus under-communicate.  But how much communication is too much?

We find that many practice staff members, managers, and physicians struggle when attempting to communicate effectively via e-mail. As I’m sure my fellow over-communicators can also attest, there is nothing more frustrating than putting together a carefully crafted email with all necessary information, only to have the recipients come back with a litany of questions that are all answered in the e-mail itself.

While these aren’t completely foolproof, here are some effective e-mail tips that I have found to be helpful:

• Be thoughtful with your formatting.  Bold, italics, and ALL CAPS can be useful, especially if you are crafting a long e-mail.  Use them to draw attention to key points. Ask yourself, “If they only read one section of this, which section do I want it to be?”  And then make that part stand out.

• Edit, edit, edit.  This will get easier with time and, at first, is downright painful.  But you’ll be surprised how a few simple edits (taking out superfluous words, removing sentences/paragraphs that don’t actually add anything) can cut your document in half and make it twice as readable.

• Set expectations and deadlines - but make sure they’re always relevant.  If every e-mail you send requests a response immediately, then the term “immediately” begins to lose meaning for your recipients.  Begin your e-mails by giving a realistic timeframe in regard to expected responses, and also let your readers know what you want from them, whether that’s a quick skim and basic feedback or detailed analysis.

What are some methods you find helpful when sending out e-mails to staff, managers, and/or physicians?