Despite Some Reservations, Doctors Embracing Internet
While many patients "feel their physicians are behind the electronic-health curve," doctors are increasingly incorporating the Internet and computer technology into their daily interactions with patients and other providers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Washington Times reports. A recent Cyber Dialogue and Deloitte Consulting study found that 55% of physicians surveyed nationwide "use the Internet daily, and 20% consider it essential to their medical practices." A second study, published by the California-based Health Technology Center, found that 85% of physicians use at least one Internet application in their practice, while more than two-thirds said that using the Internet improved quality of care and reduced medication errors. The Journal-Constitution/Times reports that physicians' increasing acceptance of technology is the result of patients' "enthusiasm" for the Internet and the ease of using new technology. The use of email, however, remains a concern for some doctors who cite privacy, miscommunication and cost as obstacles. The Deloitte study found that 25% of physicians communicated with patients via email, but 40% said "they didn't use it because they didn't get paid for it." To overcome this problem, Blue Shield of California last May became the first U.S. insurer to reimburse doctors for emailing patients, paying them $10 for each message that meets certain guidelines (McKenna, Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Washington Times, 5/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.