Author(s): Leong SL, Gingrich D, Lewis PR, Mauger DT, George JH, Leong SL, Gingrich D, Lewis PR, Mauger DT, George JH
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The doctor-patient relationship has been eroded by many factors. Would e-mail enhance communication and address some of the barriers inherent to our medical practices? METHODS: Of our study population, 4 physicians offered e-mail communication to participating patients and 4 did not. Both patients and physicians completed questionnaires regarding satisfaction, perceived quality, convenience, and promptness of the communication. RESULTS: Patient satisfaction significantly increased in the e-mail group compared with the control group in the areas of convenience (P < .0001) and the amount of time spent contacting their physician (P < .0001). Physician satisfaction in the e-mail group increased regarding convenience, amount of time spent on messages, and volume of messages. The response time was longer with e-mail. When asked if patients should be able to e-mail their physicians, most patients in the e-mail group and all but 2 of the physicians in the non-e-mail group responded "yes." CONCLUSION: E-mail communication was found to be a more convenient form of communication. Satisfaction by both patients and physicians improved in the e-mail group. The volume of messages and the time spent answering messages for the e-mail group physicians was not increased. E-mail has the potential to improve the doctor-patient relationship as a result of better communication.
This article was published in J Am Board Fam Pract
and referenced in Journal of General Practice