Most Doctors Don’t Use Email with Patients, Survey Says

October 12, 2010

A new study released recently by the Center for Studying Health System Change shows that less than 7% of office-based physicians routinely use email to communicate with their patients, even though such communication does much to improve patient satisfaction. The study involved a survey of 4,258 doctors (not including pathologists, anesthesiologists, etc.), and was done in 2008.

Of those surveyed, only 34.5% said that their offices were equipped to use electronic communication for “clinical issues” with their patients, and of those that were so equipped, only 19.5% of them said that they regularly emailed their patients.

Why don’t doctors use email? Some of the reasons given included:

  • Lack of reimbursement
  • Concerns about increased workload
  • Maintaining data security and privacy
  • Avoiding increased liability

While the vast majority of doctors won’t use email, that doesn’t mean they don’t use other forms of information technology, the survey said. 76.6 of those physicians surveyed said they had electronic access to lab, radiology, or other diagnostic tests, with 61.8% of them using it on a regular basis. 56.8% had electronic access to patient notes, “problem lists” or medication lists, and another 42.2% had access to online prescription tools.