The idea of patients having e-mail consultations with their physicians has spread among the online community like a virus, but doctors remain cool to the idea. According to a survey released in April by Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive, practically everyone who has Internet access (90 percent) would like to interact with their physician online. The majority of the 2,014 adults polled say they are interested in using e-mail to ask their doc questions when an office visit isn't necessary (77 percent), to make appointments (71 percent), to refill prescriptions (71 percent) and to retrieve test results (70 percent). What's more, 4 in 10 respondents (37 percent) are even willing to pay an average of $10.60 a month, out-of-pocket, or $6.90 per e-mail, for the opportunity. Unfortunately, doctors think their time is worth far more. A separate survey of 1,200 practicing U.S. physicians, conducted by Deloitte Research and Fulcrum Analytics, found that most docs would expect to be reimbursed an average of $57 for a 15-minute e-consultation.
E-MAIL ME IN THE MORNING
Almost a quarter of doctors (23 percent) say they interact with their patients by e-mail. Of those who are not currently e-mailing, 54 percent say they would consider doing so if insurance companies would reimburse them for the task.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO GET YOU TO E-MAIL PATIENTS IN THE FUTURE?
|Reallocation of staff||43%|
|Proof it would save time||42%|
|Ability to see more patients||37%|
|Source: Deloitte Research/Fulcrum Analytics|