There was an interesting article in the Portland Business Journal a few weeks ago which intimated that as physicians increase their use of e-mail with patients, their incomes may decline:
For physicians’ offices, e-mail between patients and providers may prove a mixed blessing.
Patients who use e-mail to communicate with their medical providers are apt to visit the doctor’s office less and are also less likely to phone the doctor’s office, according to recent data from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.
Technology usually means higher productivity and less work all around; if you run a business such as a help desk or service center email is great since each call you receive means extra expense. But, if you’re a doctor and you’re getting paid per patient visit it helps to have more patients coming into the office, not fewer.
the Portland Business Journal cites a report by Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research which indicates that patients who consult with their physicians via e-mail are less likely to visit their physician and less likely to call their doctor’s office. Kaiser reported a decline of almost 10% in office visits for patients who use e-mail (the bad news). The good news is that also report that patients who use email did not call their doctors’ offices as much (as we all know docs don’t get paid for phone calls so a reduction there is a good thing).
Of course patients making fewer doctors visits is great for insurers and employers but for docs who depend on office visits to help maintain their incomes it’s actually a wake up call to make sure they give due consideration to whether or not e-mailing is such a good thing. If they care only about their patients, it’s a great idea; however, if they also care about their income, well, that’s another story.