(...) "Physicians are understandably concerned about being overwhelmed by emails if they provide an option for secure messaging. As healthcare transforms, financial incentives have a big effect on the willingness to take on what many perceive to be “more unpaid work” (forgetting the fact that playing voicemail tag is also unpaid). Interestingly, the physicians who have given out their phone number or enabled secure email (without remuneration) haven’t found they are overwhelmed by any means. In the case of the groundbreaking Open Notes study, many of the doctors just heard crickets. For those who have proactively enabled email communications, they have experienced a number of benefits. See the section below on improvements in outcomes simply by having email. [Disclosure: One of the capabilities included in the patient relationship management system my company provides is secure email.]
Dr. Ted Epperly has been a family doctor for decades and describes his experience as follows:
“I give them both my phone number and a way to contact me via email. In 32 years of being a family physician I have had this privilege abused less than 5 times. On the flip side it has led to many occasions where I have been able to expedite care and save countless number of office visits, ER visits and hospitalizations. That is patient-centered care and I personally feel better for it.” (...)
"It is clear that providers can impact how their patients use secure messaging. Providers who suggest that their patients follow up digitally will introduce it with messages that state, “After you’ve taken these new medicines for a couple of weeks, please send me a secure message and tell me how you are doing.” They also advertise their willingness and ability to engage with patients via secure messaging knowing they will have more digital encounters than their counterparts who mention it rarely or not at all.
As providers do more of their visits via secure messaging, however, systems will need to think about new models for compensating providers that acknowledge writing a thoughtful message to a patient does take time and needs to be balanced with other work. Some organizations, such as Group Health, expect over a quarter of their doctors’ time will be spent responding to email. The most important driver is reimbursing on outcomes. When that happens, email simply becomes a tool like any other organization (outside healthcare) to enhance communication with their clientele. (...)
"Email can be one way to address the problem that patients remember so little of what they are told in the provider’s office. Other options include providing a clinical summary to patients after the visit (as recommended by Meaningful Use measures) and providing documentation of a care plan online for patients to refer to later."
[CE: Keep in mind the disclosure before making the leap to secure email between patients and doctors...]
Via Giuseppe Fattori