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Email is a complementary method of communication, to be used along with other methods. It is a form of one-way communication – it does not allow for an immediate exchange of ideas.

When to use it

Email can be used to communicate with patients/clients for:
  • Content that is longer than a text message
  • Content often saved for future reference
  • Attachments such as prescriptions, instructions, test results, etc.

Best use

  • Appointment reminders, follow ups, check-ins
  • Provide directional, important and timely information 
  • Share detailed information and data, such as educational information
  • Ensure there’s a record of your communication
  • Direct the receiver to an online source for more information
  • Provide brief status updates

Technical requirements

  • PHSA cell phone, desktop or laptop that can be used by the health care team
  • Access to the Internet through Wi-Fi or cellular data
  • PHSA staff email account
  • Patient’s personal email account


  • Secured and encrypted for PHSA staff email
  • Patient needs to login to email account with username and password to retrieve email
  • Archived

Privacy and Security 

Email accounts based in Canada (for example, Canadian providers such as TELUS) are covered by Canadian privacy laws, but those based in the United States (such as Gmail and Hotmail) are subject to American privacy laws.

Risk and limitation

  • No guarantee that patient is viewing/will respond to email
  • Could be sent to the wrong patient 
  • Difficult to document text message conversations in patient records (EMR)
  • No analytics 
  • Policy constraints if user was on external Wi-Fi or public setting

Guideline and policy


Step 1
Introduce virtual health to patients
Introduce virtual health to patients by phone/email/text. Check the technical readiness of your patients. Obtain the patient’s personal email and send an initial email to validate their email address and provide notification of risks (see APPENDIX 1: Client Notification Form, (PDF) and APPENDIX 2: sample validation script (PDF)).

Step 2
Add patient’s personal email address to your patient contact list in your PHSA email account
Storing patient contact info can include: 
  • Patient’s first and last name
  • PHN
  • Patient’s email address
Step 3
Provide patient email tips below
Copy and paste these key points to patients: 
  • Do not email or text us if you have an emergency. If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.
  • This email account is not continuously monitored.
  • Connect with us for: Quick check-ins and follow up; appointment reminders; educational information. 
Step 4
Email patient
  • Longer content than SMS
  • Content often saved for future references
  • Attachments such as prescriptions, instructions, test results, etc.
Step 5
Log the result in Tracker (optional)
After the visit, email/text the patient experience survey link (optional). Document encounter in patient record as usual.
Provincial Virtual Health will contact you regularly to understand your virtual health experience so far and provide support as needed. 

SOURCE: Email ( )
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