Sometimes I use a hand written letter or card to write to someone. This usually concerns live events such as the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one, the death of a patient or spouse. To me a hand written letter or card seems more personal.
Patients increasingly use email to contact me. In the case of requests for medication or a change of appointment I readily answer their questions and requests. Sometimes patients write long emails with questions related to the treatment or advise on difficult issues. I usually respond by asking them if they would like to advance their appointment. These questions are complicated and not solved by a short written answer, sometimes a written answer can not be of enough help.
Why is this?
As far as important live events are concerned the preference for a hand written letter or card is mostly because a hand written letter or card is more personal. Moreover, with a letter or card there’s also an exchange of material. This is easy to save and file for future remembrance. A letter or card is also written with more laboring. Besides the writing itself it also requires reflection, attention to form and correctness, and careful composition of the letter. Letters can have a tone easily communicated when hand written. Finally not everyone is connected to the world wide web, especially elderly.
In the case of patients contacting me with email for short questions such as medication or appointments it’s a form of rapid, convenient way of communicating. This rapid impersonal and convenient way of communicating limits it’s use for more complex requests and interactions, at least to my opinion.
What do you think? about hand written letters and email communication? Or cast your vote: