Patient's Willing to Pay for Emails?
Written by Editor   
Thursday, October 02, 2014 02:24 PM

Recent studies indicate that while a low percentage of physicians use e-mail to communicate with patients, the majority of patients would prefer their doctor communicate via e-mail -- and would even be willing to pay for it.  Less than 30% of physicians say they use e-mail to communicate with patients, but a June 2014, study suggested 93% of patients would prefer a doctor who uses e-mail, and 25% of those would be willing to pay a $25 fee if they could get directly in touch with their doctor.

Electronic communication between patient and clinician is one of the key tenets of the telehealth model, but billing for that time is rarely a standard part of a doctor's services. Any reimbursement must be negotiated in a contract with the payor beforehand.  "Reimbursement for telehealth is still the Wild West, There are a lot of different models, but no clear standard."

HIPAA is also a concern when communicating with patients electronically.  Any time a patient requests any kind of medical advice e-mail correspondence because it can be a huge liability.  Electronic health portals provide secure messaging and a record of all doctor/patient communication, which can help allay privacy concerns. These secure portals can also save time for clinicians by giving the patient access to routine test results, such as lab work or x-rays.

Doctors have even found patients now e-mail rather than call about simple medical issues.  "Quick questions are usually better answered via e-mail."  "E-mail is particularly helpful for reinforcing patient education begun in the office setting, and effective communication in between visits may improve a patient's understanding of his or her illness and treatment plan."