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3 in 4 Patients Want E-mail Consultations with Doctors

Ryan Chiavetta, November 1, 2013

One provider that has already started using this approach is Group Health Cooperative, a non-profit healthcare system based in Seattle, WA, which currently runs a successful e-mail consultation service, covered by a fee included in the patients' premium.

Matt Handley, MD, Associate Medical Director of Quality & Informatics at Group Health Cooperative is one of the group's many physicians who uses e-mail to communicate with his patients. He says the this payment structure enables GHC to maintain financial feasibility.

A Cost Cutter

Since in-person visits carrying a higher cost than e-mail consultations, Handley says the organization has been able to trim practice costs.

Davis also views e-mail as a cost cutter for medical practices, mainly because it allows doctors to focus on their most complex patients who need to visit the office in order to be properly treated. "We need the patients who have the more minor complaints taking care of themselves or using other modes of care that may not necessarily involve us," Davis said.

"A patient who may have cold symptoms should probably stay at home and use simple home remedies and not necessarily come in for a visit that day. If an e-mail note about those cold symptoms can help a doctor or a nurse tell a patient 'you don't need to come in today,' that appointment slot is still open for that patient who may have a worsening of their heart disease or diabetes that day."

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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.