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J Emerg Med. 2003 Feb;24(2):125-30.

A randomized study of electronic mail versus telephone follow-up after emergency department visit.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


This study was conducted to determine whether electronic mail (e-mail) increases contact rates after patients are discharged from the emergency department (ED). Following discharge, patients were randomized to be contacted by telephone or e-mail. The main outcome was success of contact. Secondary outcome was the median time of response. There were 1561 patients initially screened. Of these, 444 had e-mail and were included in the study. Half were contacted by telephone and the rest via e-mail. Our telephone contact rate was 58% (129/222) after two calls in a 48-h period and our e-mail contact was 41% (90/222). The telephone was nearly two times better than e-mail. The median time of response was 48 h for e-mail and 18 h for telephone. It is concluded that the telephone is a better modality of contact than e-mail for patients discharged from the ED.

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