Doctors Emailing, Texting Patients: More Popular Than You Think?

doctor phoneNew research from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions shows healthcare providers offer numerous online services to their patients, with emailing/texting being the most prominent, followed by visit scheduling and test result access (via iHealthBeat).

The 2012 online survey of 613 U.S. primary care and specialist physicians (PDF) yielded:

  • 33%: Email/text with patients
  • 24%: Visit scheduling, test result access
  • 19%: Prescription refill tools
  • 15%: Telehealth consultations
  • 4%: Price data for routine services

These responses were answers to the question: What types of online tools and services do healthcare providers offer to their patients?

This data reveals further proof that healthcare consumers are not only engaged with physicians and hospitals online, but also that doctors already are familiar with using this non-traditional technology for patient communication. Any front-line healthcare marketer or Chief Communications Officer facing resistance from doctors in attempting to adopt these technologies can easily point to this number: 33%, as in one-third of physicians are already doing it. Sometimes in heavily regulated industries like healthcare, evidence that adoption of a new technology/process is widespread is all it takes to stimulate its usage—”seeing is believing” or “everybody’s doing it.”

Remember, as another recent survey from Cisco showed, patients are asking for more and different ways to access healthcare services. They are also increasingly taking to the Internet for health research, hospital/doctor reviews, prescription information, and shared experiences of illnesses. The hospitals and physicians that allow such communication to take place and information to be found stand to gain in reputation, if not actual word-of-mouth referrals and patient satisfaction ratings.

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Photo courtesy of pdxmatthew via Flickr.

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