Individual providers and patients may decide to use e-mail to facilitate communication. Some providers at UW Medicine may communicate via e-mail, but that agreement does not obligate all UW Medicine Providers to communicate via e-mail. E-mail may be one of many forms of communication used by physicians and staff within UW Medicine.
Risk of using e-mail
UW Medicine providers and staff will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of any information sent and received by e-mail. Patients should understand that there are known and unknown risks that may affect the privacy of personal health care information when using e-mail to communicate. Those risks include, but are not limited, to:
Conditions for the use of e-mail
- E-mail may be forwarded, printed, and stored in numerous paper and electronic forms and be received by many intended and unintended recipients without a patient’s knowledge or agreement.
- E-mail may be sent to the wrong address by any sender or receiver.
- E-mail may be easier to forge than handwritten or signed papers.
- Copies of e-mail may exist even after the sender or the receiver has deleted his or her copy.
- E-mail service providers have a right to archive and inspect e-mails.
- E-mail may be intercepted, altered, or used without detection or authorization.
- E-mail may spread computer viruses.
- E-mail delivery is not guaranteed.
Patients should not use e-mail for medical emergencies or to send time-sensitive information to providers. Patients should understand and agree that it is their responsibility to follow up with UW Medicine providers or staff if they have not received a response to an e-mail within a reasonable time period.
Patients who send e-mail messages should state a question or concern briefly and clearly, and include:
- A subject line that describes the question or concern, and
- clear patient identification, including patient name, telephone number and patient identification number in the body of the message.
Patients should inform UW Medicine Registration of any changes to an e-mail address. In addition, if a patient decides to withdraw consent to use e-mail communications about healthcare, the patient should inform providers or a UW staff member in writing.