No e-mail, please

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS / ASIDES & INSIDES -

Noth­ing per­sonal. But your physi­cian re­ally doesn’t want you to e-mail him, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

Pa­tients said e-mails save them time, and health groups re­ported im­proved pa­tient-sat­is­fac­tion scores when their doc­tors used e-mail to com­mu­ni­cate with pa­tients, ac­cord­ing to re­search by a Weill Cor­nell Med­i­cal Col­lege team pub­lished in the Au­gust is­sue of the jour­nal Health Af­fairs.

But sur­veyed physi­cians are an­other mat­ter, said Dr. Tara Bishop, one of the re­port’s au­thors and an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in the depart­ment of pub­lic health and medicine at Weill Cor­nell.

“The lack of com­pen­sa­tion is one is­sue,” she told Crain’s New York Busi­ness.

An es­ti­mated 7% of doc­tors use e-mail to com­mu­ni­cate with pa­tients. Only one clinic in the 21 prac­tices stud­ied charged a fee for e-mails. Doc­tors in­ter­viewed for the study said elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tion cre­ates more work for them. “It takes a psy­cho­log­i­cal toll on some peo­ple—the feel­ing of never be­ing done,” she said.

A doc­tor may see only 10 pa­tients a day but might e-mail 50 pa­tients. And while an e-mail ex­change can mean a pa­tient can avoid an of­fice visit, doc­tors said the prac­tices just book more pa­tients; physi­cians did not see a de­crease in their work­loads.

In­sur­ers also balk at pay­ing for physi­cians’ time spent e-mail­ing, the re­searchers found. “Un­til dif­fer­ent pay­ment mod­els emerge, elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tion is un­likely to be widely adopted by physi­cian prac­tices,” Bishop said.

Physi­cians say a full in­box of pa­tient e-mails will just add more to their work­load.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.