Ten E-mail Etiquette Tips for Medical Practices

Does your practice have e-mail etiquette issues? Here are some etiquette tips for intra-office or patient e-mails.

Does your practice have e-mail etiquette issues? I have found that much like traditional table manners have gone by the wayside as families get busier, e-mail etiquette is something that is often overlooked (and even I am guilty of the occasional faux pas). Here are some etiquette tips for intra-office or patient e-mails:

1. Use an accurate subject line. This helps the reader prioritize his e-mails and find your e-mail if he has a high volume of inbox activities.

2. Keep paragraphs small and concise by giving specific information. Choose your words carefully so that you get the most impact for the space.

3. Avoid sarcasm in e-mails. Tone can be difficult to read at best and completely misunderstood at worst. Avoid sarcasm and jokes in e-mail, they are easily misconstrued and if you are e-mailing patients, pretty unprofessional.

4. Avoid excessive CCs and BCCs. If the person isn’t directly needed to respond, then avoid copying them on the e-mail.

5. Avoid e-mailing items that can better be handled in person or over the phone. E-mailing patients “within normal limits” test results is okay, e-mailing test results that are not normal or cause concern is not a good practice.

6. Keep your response times in check. During business hours patient e-mails should be responded to in about four hours. Intra-office e-mails follow that suit also, but most businesses expect faster response times.

7. Use common courtesies. You know the words your folks taught you? Please, thank you, and you’re welcome.

8. It’s okay to be informal but not sloppy. Avoid slang, using abbreviations is fine for intra-office emails, but avoid using them in patient e-mails. You cannot assume they will understand them.

9. Avoid caps lock distress. All caps looks like you are shouting and all lower case looks lazy. Try to use proper capitalization.

10. Don’t forget your signature. Make sure that your signature is on the left side with alternate communications in case the patient or coworker would like to call you.