Ninety-three percent of adults would prefer to go to a doctor that offers email communication, according to a recent survey of 433 Americans aged 21 and over from Catalyst Healthcare Research. Of this 93 percent, 25 percent said they would still prefer a doctor that uses email communication even if there was a $25 fee per episode.
The survey found that 84 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 49 to 67) use the internet to get information about a medical condition or drug, a higher number than any other age bracket, while Generation Y (ages 21 to 33) had the highest percentage of users that looked for info about doctors online, 62 percent, and checked how much medical procedures cost online, 41 percent.
The researchers found that 44 percent of consumers wanted to pay bills online. A majority of the two younger generations (Gens Y & X), 55 percent in each group, wanted to pay bills online. When asked about lab results, Generation X (ages 34 to 48) had the highest percentage of consumers that wanted to view results online, 46 percent. Overall, this group was equally interested in seeing lab results online or via phone call – both were around 35 percent.
The results of the survey didn’t surprise me. Email is an effective form of communication that most of us use on a daily basis. Email is timely because it can be sent anytime, day or night. Email is easy because virtually any computer and most mobile devices provide access to email. I can certainly see how email can provide benefit to both provider and consumer. The downside is health care is complex. Email doesn’t lend itself to question and answer and there is no context associated with email. There’s a place for email in health care but email doesn’t replace the need for regular one on one visits with a provider.