Email is now the preferred communications medium for consumers in health.
Second to email, using doctors’ websites would also be welcomed by many health consumers, especially for prescriptions and appointments. Physicians’ websites are somewhat less desirable communications platforms for communicating about personal health conditions. It is still too early for consumers en masse to embrace text messaging in health.
Women were more likely than men to embrace these new media platforms for communicating with physicians.
Lightspeed Research conducted a survey on Americans’ attitudes on communicating with physicians to save time and money in August 2009 among 1,000 respondents.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: As much as Americans say they’d embrace email communication with their doctors, there are two impediments in the current market: first, most physicians aren’t ‘there’ yet, according to the surveyed consumers; and second, at least one-half of consumers aren’t willing to pay for this service. 49% of consumers polled said they were unwilling to pay for an email consult; 31% said they’d be willing to pay if it were covered by insurance.
In addition to many convenience factors, a key benefit cited by 49% of consumers was that they would have a written set of instructions from the doctor to which she can refer. Such written instructions can get to the major challenge of health literacy and “patient ADD” that addles physician-patient communications in today’s harried/hurried world.
The emergence of the patient-centered medical home, bundled payments, and paying physicians to manage conditions should break down these two key impediments. In the meantime, physicians and payers can tap into services already available that connect patients such as those from Medem, Medfusion, and RelayHealth.