Electronic Communication Improves Access But Barriers To Its Widespread Adoption Remain
Author: Tara F. Bishop, Matthew J. Press, Jayme L. Mendelsohn, Lawrence P. Casalino
Because electronic communication is quick, convenient, and inexpensive for most patients, care that is truly patient centered should promote the use of such communication between patients and providers, even using it as a substitute for office visits when clinically appropriate. Despite the potential benefits of electronic communication, fewer than 7 percent of providers used it in 2008. To learn from the experiences of providers that have widely incorporated electronic communication into patient care, we interviewed leaders of twenty-one medical groups that use it extensively with patients. We also interviewed staff in six of those groups. Electronic communication was widely perceived to be a safe, effective, and efficient means of communication that improves patient satisfaction and saves patients time but that increases the volume of physician work unless office visits are reduced. Practice redesign and new payment methods are likely necessary for electronic communication to be more widely used in patient care.