Healthcare News & Insights

Doctors prefer traditional communication over technology

Despite the vast number of new tech products aimed at making communication easier, doctors still prefer talking to patients the old-fashioned way. 

86536752Many early adopters — and IT vendors — have touted the benefits of new technology tools for patient engagement. That includes online portals where patients can make appointments or request information, as well as applications for patients’ mobile devices.

But so far, providers prefer traditional communication tools, according to a recent report released by TCS Healthcare Technologies, the Case Management Society of America and the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians.

Among the 600 providers surveyed, very few reported using new technology-based strategies to connect with patients. For instance:

  • 15% are using web-based patient portals and online health records
  • 13% talk to patients using text messaging
  • 9% use social networking to communicate with patients, and
  • 8% use mobile applications.

In comparison, nearly all of the providers surveyed are focused on using phone calls, mailed letters and face-to-face communication to engage patients.

One exception: Email has apparently caught on as a viable patient-provider communication tool, as more than half (54%) of survey respondents use that to talk to patients.

Time to look at new tech?

The bottom line: According to those providers, new technology tools won’t — and shouldn’t — replace direct, one-on-one interactions with patients.

But that doesn’t mean the technology isn’t worth investigating for hospitals.

Recent surveys have found that patients want access to those online portals from their doctors and would like to be able to communicate with their providers electronically. For example, one poll from last year found that:

  • 88% of patients want to receive email reminders when it’s time to schedule an appointment
  • 83% want to access their personal medical information online
  • 73% want the ability to request prescription refills using a smartphone, and
  • 72% want to book, change or cancel appointments through the web.

And another survey from this covering mobile healthcare found that:

  • 37% want to use a smartphone or tablet to ask their doctors questions
  • 37% want to book appointments using those devices
  • 36% would like to be able to check the effects and side effects of medication, and
  • 35% want to receive test results on their mobile device.

The key for providers: Find out what your patients want.

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