Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Email consultations with your doctor?
Seems like email consultations with your doctor may be coming to your doctor's office sooner than we thought. According to this New York Times article (registration required):
"I'm sitting at work," Mr. Settlemoir said. "I've got e-mail open anyway. It's much easier than calling and getting voice-mail prompts and sitting on hold. It's very valuable to me."
Blue Shield of California pays his doctor $25 for each online exchange, the same as it pays for an office visit. Some insurers pay a bit less for e-mailing, and patients in some health plans are charged a $5 or $10 co-payment that is billed to their credit card and relayed to the doctor.
For doctors, the convenience of online exchanges can be considerable. They say they can offer advice about postsurgical care, diet, changing a medication and other topics that can be handled safely and promptly without an office visit or a frustrating round of telephone tag. And surveys have shown that e-mail, by reducing the number of daily office visits, gives physicians more time to spend with patients who need to be seen face to face.