A survey conducted early last year by Manhattan Research found that only 31 percent of doctors e-mailed their patients in the first quarter of 2007.
Dr. Daniel Z. Sands, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, is among the early adopters who doesn't get paid for e-visits. He sees communicating with patients online as no different from phoning them, a practice that also is not billable. He mostly gets e-mails from patients seeking advice for new symptoms or updates from chronic disease sufferers.
A 2007 University of Pittsburgh study published in the journal Pediatrics followed 121 families who e-mailed their doctors. Researchers found 40 percent of e-mails were sent after business hours and only about 6 percent were urgent. Doctors received on average about one e-mail a day and responded 57 percent faster than by telephone. A separate study by health care giant Kaiser Permanente published in the American Journal of Managed Care last year found patients made 14 percent fewer phone calls than those who did not use the online services. Before e-mail can become as routine as a physical, doctors need to be trained to handle confidential patient messages in the digital age, some experts say.
Steve - since we began accepting emails in the late 1990's, it has been a wonderful service for clients. We have found that when clients can write their symptoms, wants, needs, and desires in an email, it comes out much clearer and hence, becomes easier for us to make the proper suggestions. It also allows us the time to respond rapidly and keeps a "paper trail" for later review.
31 percent is a paltry number for doctors that email, to say the least!