Patient Communications

Dana-Farber keeps in touch with patients in many different ways. Explore how Dana-Farber connects with patients through a variety of communications, including email, e-bulletins, phone reminders, and patient portals.

Our Patient eNewsletter

If you are a Dana-Farber patient or care for someone being treated here, sign up to get our Patient-Family Focus eNewsletter, which offers short, timely updates about Dana-Farber.

Other Ways We Communicate With You

    We ask patients to provide their email address when registering at Dana-Farber because we would like to send important information electronically. Email messages from Dana-Farber include:

    • E-Bulletin for Patients and Families, which delivers short, timely news and key information, approximately once a month
    • Occasional surveys about your experience as a patient
    • Emergency updates about unplanned events, weather-related closings, or delays
    • Registration and Billing information for insurance verification, account balance, and payment reminders

    To Opt Out of Dana-Farber Email Publications

    • Scroll down to the bottom of the email message and follow the instructions.
    • If you do not have a copy of the email message, send an unsubscribe request to with "Opt out of E-Newsletter" as your subject. Be sure to include your name and email address.

    Communication With Your Clinical Team

    For adult patients, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute supports the use of Patient Gateway. This is a secure and convenient way to email your clinician or request routine appointments, prescriptions, and referral authorizations. Learn more and enroll in Patient Gateway.

    You can use regular email for occasional routine communication, but this does not provide the same level of security as Patient Gateway.

    Security Advantages of Patient Gateway Messages

    Patient Gateway offers a secure and convenient way to email your clinician or request routine appointments, prescriptions, and referral authorizations. Here are some of the differences between Patient Gateway and regular email.

    Regular Email

    • Copies of messages may remain on the user’s computer or an employer's server.
    • Messages can be mistakenly sent to an unintended recipient.
    • The identity of someone who reads the messages can be unknown.
    • Messages can be encrypted, but this doesn’t always happen. Patient Gateway messages

    Patient Gateway Messages

    • Messages do not leave the secure Partners server. There are no copies on other machines.
    • Messages do not reach parties outside the secure Partners system.
    • The identity of the person who opens and reads the message is known and logged.
    • Messages are always encrypted when they are transmitted.

    Refer to our Email Use Guidelines for patients who communicate with their doctors through email.

    Guidance for Patients and Clinicians on Use of Email

    1. If a clinician and a patient agree to communicate by electronic mail, they should be aware that:
      • Others besides the addressee may process messages during addressee's usual business hours, or during addressee's vacation or illness
      • Email can occasionally be sent to the wrong party
      • Email can be accessed from various locations
      • Information may be sent via email to other care providers
      • The Internet does not typically provide a secure media for transporting confidential information unless both parties are using encryption technologies.
      • Automatic forwarding of email is allowed within the and community. Messages can, however, be forwarded to another recipient at the sender's discretion.
    2. Clinical interactions conducted by email which a clinician believes should be part of the medical record should be stored in the patient's electronic or paper medical record.
    3. If the health information/treatment includes sensitive information, the patient and clinician should decide whether this information may be referenced in email, or should not be shared. Such information might include references to HIV status, substance abuse, sexually-transmitted diseases, sexual assault, abortion, domestic violence, or confidential details of treatment with a psychotherapist, psychologist or social worker.
    4. The category of transaction, e.g., status, appointment, should be in the subject line of a message so that clinicians can more easily sort and prioritize their emails.
    5. When possible, clinicians and patients may choose to use a Read Receipt in order to acknowledge that they have read the message that was sent.

    After your first visit to Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, we may call your home to remind you of the date and time of your next appointment. You will receive this call from an automated phone system a few days ahead, which you can use to quickly confirm or reschedule your appointment.

    You will only receive a reminder call if your visit includes an exam or radiology appointment. If you are coming in only for infusion or radiation therapy, you will not receive a reminder.

    We will also use this system to notify you if your appointment has to be cancelled or rescheduled.

    At any time during the phone call, you can use your phone's touchtone keypad to take the following actions:

    • Press "1" to confirm your appointment
    • Press "2" to reschedule your appointment
    • Press "3" to hear the message again

    If you are unable to answer your phone, the automated system will leave a brief message on your voicemail or answering machine.

    If you have questions about your next appointment or about our automated telephone reminders, please speak with your care team or call your physician's office.