Physicians Slow to Adopt Email
It is no wonder patients love the ability to email their PCP with minor questions—for clarification (like me) or to request forms or prescription refills. Unfortunately, most doctors approach communicating electronically with patients with trepidation.
Less than one-third of doctors reported emailing with patients in 2012, up from 27% in 2008, according to annual studies of more than 3,000 doctors conducted by Manhattan Research. That's right, the number of physicians emailing with their patients increased by only 5 percentage points in as many years. To put that in perspective, Twitter went from a tiny start-up to a multi-billion dollar company in the same amount of time.
Furthermore, physicians who texted via SMS messages with patients about their care increased from 12% in 2010 to 18% in 2012.
Only 5.5% of 30,000-plus Americans included in a National Health Interview Survey reported communicating with a healthcare provider by email in 2011, up slightly from 4.6% in 2009, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Benefits of Email
These statistics are, frankly, pathetic and it's the marketer's job to improve them. Beyond creating more engaged patients and potentially improving quality of care, patient emails are at heart a communications issue. It's a workflow/efficiency issue. Think of all the time that's wasted when doctors' offices and patients play phone tag. And—more than that—it's a patient experience issue. Patient experience extends far beyond the bricks and motor of your hospital.