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3 in 4 Patients Want E-mail Consultations with Doctors

Ryan Chiavetta, November 1, 2013

Patient demand for e-mail consultations with physicians is high, but willingness to pay is low. Physicians practices are finding they can accommodate the preference for e-mail by identifying suitable billing strategies.


Matthew M. Davis


Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP

Research reveals a large discrepancy between how parents say they would like to communicate with pediatricians and how they actually do communicate with doctors. Three quarters (77%) of parents said they would seek out email advice from their doctors, but only 6% said that they are actually able to communicate with their doctors this way, a study released by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health has found.

How physicians practices are accommodating the growing patient demand for e-mail consultations involves settling on a reimbursement strategy that makes financial sense and resolving questions about patient privacy concerns.

The study highlights the providers' concerns which revolve chiefly around how they will be paid for providing e-mail consultation services. Specific financial concerns noted are the variable nature of reimbursement for e-mail consultations, rather than the established ones for office visits, and the costs of implementing privacy and security systems for the communication exchanges.

A Time-Intensive Task
Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, one of the authors of the study, said that providers consider carefully whether and how it is appropriate to charge patients for electronic availability due to the time it takes to review information and respond to an e-mail, rather than the instant access coming from a telephone call.

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2 comments on "3 in 4 Patients Want E-mail Consultations"


Marcus M (11/22/2013 at 12:22 PM)
Email is not the way to communicate medical issues with patients, in my opinion, based on personal experience with telephone communications with these same patients who cannot communicate over the phone what is really going on. How are they supposed to communicate via email and get a "medical opinion" that may not be based on clinical and objective evidence?

pk (11/12/2013 at 2:27 PM)
Half of the parents surveyed (49%) said they believed a co-pay for an email consultation should be less than a co-pay from an office visit and nearly half said e-mail consultations should be a free service. 1) this is why email is NOT a viable option. patients want this for free and the doctors take liability and time to respond with treatment plan. 2) should be FREE. of course since groceries are for free and gas for the car is also free.