Study: How Patients Want to Communicate with Their Physician

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Study: How Patients Want to Communicate with Their Physician

Cameron Graham

Technology Advice Blog, 2014

“Patient portals are one of the main emerging technologies in US healthcare. Portals allow physicians to interact with patients outside of visits, easily distribute test results, and implement online appointment scheduling. While doctors have experienced mixed results in trying to encourage patient engagement with such systems, patient portals are almost certain to become widespread.

Many EHRs now feature integrated patient portals, and practices need at least five percent of their patients this year to use such a site, in order to qualify for Meaningful Use Stage 2 incentives. This can be accomplished by getting patients to view, download, or transmit health information over a portal, or send an online message to their provider. Physician response to these requirements has been well documented, but little research has been conducted on how patients feel about such a significant shift in patient-doctor communication.

In an effort to learn more about how patients wish to communicate with their doctors, we surveyed a random sample of 430 patients who had seen their primary care physician within the last year.

Key Survey Results:
– Nearly 40 percent of patients are unsure if their primary care physician has a patient portal system. Less than half of patients (49.2 percent) report being shown a portal either during or outside of their visit.

– Over half of patients report that their physician did not follow-up with them after their appointment. Of practices that did follow-up, only 9.1 percent did so through a patient portal.

– Overall, patients report that the number one way they’d like to schedule appointments is over the phone. However, patients aged 18-24 prefer to use an online calendar.

– 42.7 percent of patients prefer to receive test results over the phone. Only 18.1 percent prefer email, and 14.1 percent prefer online messages.”

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