Although doctors are used to providing medical advice and prescribing treatment plans in the privacy of their offices, patients are now requesting to receive guidance in between visits. This desire might be the result of healthcare reform, a push to integrate technology into practices and hospitals. The federal government has promoted this agenda through the electronic health records (EHR) Incentives program, which offers stimulus payments to doctors who invest in new software and use it to meet meaningful use measures.
Many doctors are following the orders and deploying EHRs, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are comfortable providing medical advice over the internet, reports Medical Economics. Their familiarity and comfort may not matter as much in the future, as improved patient engagement becomes the norm.
Patients want anonymity in exchange for more transparency
If doctors knew opening the virtual communications lines could make their jobs easier, they might be more interested in whole-heartedly embracing the health IT revolution. A recent study by Televox found that more than one-third of American consumers would disclose information about their lifestyles more freely over text messages, emails or automated calls. That means that healthcare providers might have access to better information about a person’s diet, exercise routines and habits that can guide their care plans.
In fact, the large majority (85 percent) of surveyed individuals said they would find virtual communication methods more helpful than in-person visits or phone conversations, the report found. Emails were cited as the preferred channel for receiving care between visits, payment reminders, educational tips, feedback requests and health or medical product recall announcements.
Men and women want different things
The Televox study also identified common threads between male and female clients. Surveyed men indicated they want communications with doctors to be clear and direct. Around half said they would prefer to receive only information that is relevant to their healthcare needs and personalized to each recipient. Moreover, 30 percent reported that intermittent text messages, voicemails or emails could bolster a trusting relationship with their doctors.
Women, on other hand, are focused on receiving timely information over digital channels, the report adds. Around 11 percent said they would not even read information that did not directly address them and more than half prefer to receive communication that is personal and pertinent.
Doctors may need to get on the electronic messaging bandwagon and find ways to deliver individually tailored notes because 90 percent of adult women are the key decision makers in their family members’ care plans, Televox found.