On average I receive 67 emails every day. Some are spam, some are trash and some are important. It feels good when I get to delete an email without having to read it. What if all 67 emails I received were from a patient who had a question about a medication or a test result. The option to delete would go away, instead, I’d have to devote time to answering every email.
Email communication between patients and physicians is on the rise and will continue to grow as patient portals and secure messaging becomes a requirement of Meaningful Use. The problem is, how does a physician find the time to empty the inbox?
A recent study has examined the implications of emails between patients and providers and the results suggest that workflow and reimbursement models may need to be adjusted to account for this method of communication, according to Health Data Management.
Specifically, the health care industry must address questions such as:
- How physicians get reimbursed for time spent emailing in a fee-for-service model; and
- How physicians effectively incorporate email exchanges into their already busy schedules.
Lead author Bradley Crotty said the use of technology “may require some policy changes and will most certainly involve adjusting the doctor’s day, building in time going forward to meet patient demand for email communication” (Goth, Health Data Management, 10/23).