Doctors Would Consult Patients Via Email if Paid
More than half of physicians would embrace email communication with patients if they were reimbursed for it, a new survey finds. Medem, an electronic communications provider founded in part by the American Medical Association, surveyed more than 700 physicians and found that the volume of physician-patient email continues to grow (Medem release, 11/6). But while the practice of charging for consultation by phone and email is common for lawyers, accountants and other professionals, it is "unexplored territory" for physicians. Doctors are "almost exclusively" compensated for the time they spend in the office with patients, so patients have to "drag" themselves into the doctor's office just to ask questions a physician is unlikely to have enough time to fully address in the office setting. Over email, however, a physician could take time to research a specific question, look up patient records to check for risk factors, access appropriate Web sites -- all of which can then be sent to the patient via email. Medem predicts consumers would pay around $25 for this service, but barriers exist beyond the question of appropriate compensation, including concerns about system security and professional liability (Stoltz, Washington Post, 11/14).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.