The future of doctor-patient interaction, via e-mail:

TopGuy.com: As I relax this Sunday evening at my weekend getaway, I’d like to invite you to do likewise. I’ve had enough of our eight-minute office visits, and I’m sure you have, too. So I’ve decided to join the 10 to 20 percent of American physicians using e-mail to restore personal connection with patients.

Terminal Patient: How the hell did you get my e-mail address?

TopGuy.com: You filled out some forms in the office. As I was saying, I’m excited about using the technology you or your caregivers are familiar with to help both of us. According to a recent medical journal, e-mail can communicate lab and diagnostic results, issue treatment reminders, and even handle common acute problems. Instead of seeing 30 patients a day, if I handle 15 of them by e-mail in 45 minutes, I could save the rest of my day.

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  • Anonymous

    Oh, hell yes, let’s all send Protected Health Information through open networks without any encryption.

    Somebody should go read CMS’s Q&A on HIPAA and email before doing dopey things like this.

  • Anonymous

    There are a number of ways to handle security issues. Test results can be zipped into a password-protected file or instead of e-mail a secure web site can be set up. There are other ways – just do google on email security.

    There are a number of things that could be done via e-mail or a web site that are not critical or private: some prescription issues (for chronic conditions), negative test results, appointments. Phone is great when the office is small, but when you are dealing with a medical group which has a central call center for several doctors, there are often waits. This way the lines would be open for people who really feel they need to talk to a doctor or nurse or need an urgent appointment, while something like “doctor asked me to call in a month to tell if I have problems with this new prescription, I wanted to say that everything is great” can be easily handled via e-mail. By the way – both the request to call and the message are from personal experience.