Making the Most of MyChart Messaging: Dos and Don’ts

South Shore MyChart is an essential tool for South Shore Medical Center patients.

MyChart makes it easy to manage multiple aspects of your patient experience, including scheduling appointments, managing prescriptions, and viewing test results.

MyChart’s most-used feature is its secure messaging platform, which allows patients to ask a question or share information with their care team without a phone call.

Our team receives thousands of MyChart messages on a monthly basis, as many patients use MyChart messaging as their primary form of patient-to-provider communication.

Patients became more familiar with digital healthcare tools during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a significant increase in the number of active MyChart users.

Due to the increase in MyChart users, we’ve seen the volume of MyChart messages continue to grow, particularly over the past few years.

Understanding MyChart messaging

MyChart messaging refers to MyChart’s internal platform, not to email notifications you may receive from MyChart.

You can access MyChart’s messaging platform by clicking “Messages” in MyChart’s top navigation or main menu.

MyChart messaging uses a secure platform, meaning patients can feel comfortable sharing otherwise private health information with their care team.

Multiple members of your care team may view MyChart messages in order to get an appropriate and efficient response; this may include nurses or advance practice clinicians other than your primary care provider (PCP).

Dos and Don’ts of MyChart messaging

As more patients use MyChart messaging, we wanted to provide a guide on how to use the platform properly, including some common dos and don’ts to make MyChart as helpful as possible.

Don’t use MyChart for urgent questions or concerns

Your care team makes every effort to respond to MyChart messages as soon as possible.

However, patients should not expect an immediate answer – it may take several days to receive a response.

With that in mind, patients should not use MyChart messaging for urgent concerns.

Examples of urgent concerns include severe symptoms, sudden changes in a chronic condition, and time-sensitive questions about medication.

In these situations, please schedule a same-day visit using MyChart or give our team a call and we’ll see you as soon as possible.

In the event of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

Do: Adhere to MyChart messaging’s character limits

MyChart messages are limited to 500 characters to encourage clear, concise communication about your question or concern.

Patients should limit their messages to 500 or fewer characters and refrain from attaching screenshots featuring additional message content.

These screenshots can be difficult to read and can make it more difficult for your provider to get a full understanding of your concern.

Patients should also refrain from sending multiple messages once they hit the character limit.

If you find yourself needing more than 500 characters to describe a concern, it’s a good sign that you should schedule a visit with your provider.

During an in-person or telehealth visit, you’ll have the time you need to discuss your concern in detail.

Don’t use MyChart messaging for complex medical concerns

While we understand that MyChart messaging is a convenient way to share information with your care team, patients should not use MyChart to discuss complex concerns.

Complex concerns, involving multiple medical problems of different parts of the body, require a more in-depth discussion than MyChart allows.

Your care team will want to know about your concerns in as much detail as possible and have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions to provide you with the right guidance.

Medical advice requests through MyChart should be simple – for example, you’re feeling better after a previously discussed knee injury and want to know if you can remove your brace.

It's important to note that medical advice requests that require clinical time or provider expertise to answer may be billed to your insurance.

Do: Select the appropriate type of message for your inquiry

MyChart allows patients to send messages in several different categories:

  • Refill a medication: Request a refill for a prescription from your medications list.
  • Schedule an appointment: Request or schedule an appointment with a member of your care team.
  • Medical advice request: Send your care team a message about a recent or upcoming visit or ask another medical question.
  • Customer service request: You have a question about billing or other non-medical concerns.

Our team created these categories to help direct all requests to the appropriate personnel.

For example, our operators will respond to questions about billing or scheduling appointments – these inquiries don’t involve your care team.

By choosing the right category for your message, you’ll help our team respond as efficiently as possible.

Don’t use MyChart messaging for feedback or personal conversations

We value feedback from our patients, but MyChart isn’t the proper forum for sharing that feedback.

If you’d like to share feedback on a recent appointment or other experience, please contact our Office of Patient Experience and Engagement by calling 781-624-8888 or emailing advocacy [at] (advocacy[at]southshorehealth[dot]org).

In addition, please don’t use MyChart messaging for personal conversations with your care team.

While we love hearing from our patients, our providers would prefer to hear what’s new with you at your next appointment!

Don’t use MyChart to request a phone call from your provider

MyChart messages can be a good way to relay important information to your care team.

However, if you need to speak directly with your primary care provider, we encourage you to make an in-person or virtual appointment.

Our doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants dedicate the majority of their time to seeing patients and are happy to speak with you during a visit.

We ask that you please refrain from sending messages asking your provider to call you.

Do: Remember what else you can do in MyChart

While we’ve focused on messaging dos and don’ts thus far, it’s important to remember that patients can use MyChart to perform a variety of helpful self-service tasks.

These include:

  • Scheduling appointments, including same-day and specialty appointments
  • Paying bills or viewing billing summaries
  • Updating prescription information, including preferred pharmacies
  • Updating demographic and insurance information
  • Completing pre-visit forms and questionnaires
  • Viewing recent and past test results

Beyond messaging, MyChart is a helpful tool for managing your patient experience without the need for a phone call.

Try it next time you need to address one of the needs above!

Learn more about South Shore MyChart or register for a MyChart account.