Physicians slow to e-mail routinely with patients.Issue Brief Cent Stud Health Syst Change. 2010 OctIB
Some experts view e-mail between physicians and patients as a potential tool to improve physician-patient communication and, ultimately, patient care. Despite indications that many patients want to e-mail their physicians, physician adoption and use of e-mail with patients remains uncommon--only 6.7 percent of office-based physicians routinely e-mailed patients in 2008, according to a new national study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Overall, about one-third of office-based physicians reported that information technology (IT) was available in their practice for e-mailing patients about clinical issues. Of those, fewer than one in five reported using e-mail with patients routinely; the remaining physicians were roughly evenly split between occasional users and non-users. Physicians in practices with access to electronic medical records and those working in health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or medical school settings were more likely to adopt and use e-mail to communicate with patients compared with other physicians. However, even among the highest users--physicians in group/staff-model HMOs--only 50.6 percent reported routinely e-mailing patients.