Effective email communication to use in a PT practice

I recently had to a patient who required the use of iontonphoresis to administer dexamethasone to both of her feet. There were two issues that required attention to successfully carryout the use of this modality:

I had to figure out who had the iontophoresis unit, or at which office branch our iontophoresis was located.

Where the gel pads for the iontophoresis unit was located, and how many we had in stock.

The key to successfully carrying out an action plan while communicating with coworkers spanning across multiple office sites is in effective email communication. Effective email communication directed towards the appropriate group of co-workers and appropriate email content can ensure that tasks done are completed quicker, so we can ultimately can get patients better faster.

Here are some things to avoid to make sure your email communications are most effective.

Re-think twice before sending out a company-wide mass email:

When seeking information regarding resources available at different branch locations, email only the Clinic Managers.

I sent all the PTs in my company regarding the whereabouts of the iontophoresis unit. Not only does this potentially clog up everyone’ inboxes with “reply alls”, it asks everyone to take the action to reply to the email when many of them are only half certain with where the iontophoresis unit is. The people who will most likely have a clear, definitive answer to this would have been the Clinic Managers of each office site.

Don’t send an email without adding Cc of people who needs to confirm your information:

I had asked my clinic manager how many more boxes of gel electrode we had left for our iontophoresis unit. With no stock of electrodes left, I sent out an email to my coworker in charge of orders asking for order placement. What I did not do was Cc my clinic manager to this email. How would my co worker know for sure that we indeed didn’t have any stocks left? What if I had misheard my clinic manager? For clarity and error proof communication, I should have put my clinic manager’s email under Cc so she could confirm that the information was correct. Whenever you confirm a piece of information with someone and need to ask a second person to act upon it, always Cc the first person who provided you the information.

I first sent out an email requesting order placement for more iontophoresis gel electrodes, requesting the quantity of the item needed as well as a link to a site where the electrodes could be purchased.  What I did not do was justify why financial resource of the company had to be utilized. The content of the email should have specified the following:

  • Doctor’s plan of care requires the use of iontophoresis at every patient visit to PT.
  • She’s a bilateral foot patient whose plane of care is 3 PT visits/week for 4 weeks, requiring a total of 24 gel electrodes.
  • We only have 1 box of 12 electrodes left, so 1 more box needs to be ordered.

Bottom line, when sending out an email requesting action, be concise about why you need it done, what needs to be done, and when you need it done by.

Effective email should involve a direct recipient who is responsible for taking action, along with in-direct recipients under Cc:, who will confirm the details of the action plan. In addition, subject should have a concise keyword for the task to be accomplished, with the content beginning with an opening action statement followed by the details.

I quickly learned the ins and outs of effective email communication through my coworkers, and successfully arranged my patient to receive the dexamethasone treatment she needed.

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