Josh Seidman alerted me to this recently published study of the use of patient-physician e-mail in a smaller pediatric rheumatology practice. The study shows that the state of the art for many practices like this is still unencrypted e-mail as was used in this case. At the same time, the authors did a nice job quantifying time spent communicating this way as well as the impact on patient satisfaction. Of significance, they found that e-mail responses took physicians 57% less time on average to complete.
The article adds to the body of knowledge that this is a good thing to do. Of course, I might ask if in the future we should quantify the time savings to patients in addition to / instead of to physicians. The other curiosity I had after reading the article was the statement repeated multiple times throughout that “pediatricians are leaders when it comes to using patient-physician e-mail.” I didn’t see any data to support this. Maybe this is a bit of cheerleading to enhance adoption in the pediatrician community? At this point in our work, I can imagine that it is important to describe differences in various specialties’ use of patient centered health information technology, but not sure of the importance of singling out any specific specialty as the “leader.” Open to any comments to the contrary….