Should more doctors keep in touch with patients via EMAIL?

It’s a question worth asking, after a new survey found that only one-third of doctors offer email or text access to patients. That’s despite the fact that most patients say they love having email access to their doctor because the ability to ask questions without an appointment - and get a response back – gives people more “peace of mind” about their health. Plus, many doctors say it’s safer to have patients ask health questions via email – than risk having them rely on a Google search.

So, why don’t more doctors offer email? The biggest issue is privacy because doctors don’t want to worry about someone hacking into their email, and gaining access to your medical information! Plus, there’s the risk of miscommunication because as you’ve probably noticed in your own emails, there are times when a message doesn’t make sense, or it raises more questions than answers. So a lot of doctors prefer talking face-to-face – or over the phone – to sending a bunch of emails.

Then there’s the fact that responding to email takes time out of a doctor’s busy day – and that’s usually time they don’t get paid for.

Also, there have been many cases where doctors give out their personal email address, only to have patients put them on mass-email lists, or forward them spam. That’s one reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, is developing strict guidelines for doctors and patients to follow, when it comes to using electronic communication.

But soon, more doctors may get on board because new federal laws are offering some financial incentives to doctors who use electronic medical records – which may encourage more doctors to use email.