Healthcare News & Insights

Report warns e-mailing patients may have hidden downside

Docs using e-mail to connect with patients may seem like nothing but good news for patients, but new research reveals some groups benefit much more than others.

A recent study asked parents of pediatric patients to rate how often they use e-mail to communicate, if the ability to e-mail a doctor would be helpful, and if parents would prefer to have that option.

Overwhelming majorities said they use e-mail frequently and said doctors should offer that option. But two groups, African-Americans and parents from low-income households, said e-mail wouldn’t be useful to them.

The report authors warned that practices that e-mail patients could wind up creating health disparities in the level of communication provided to different groups.

One possible solution: Making sure practices/clinicians don’t rely on e-mail to communicate important health information, and use it only when patients have already initiated the process.

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