Improved communication from physician- patient emailing is an important element of patient centeredness.This study looks at the evolution of email usage between physicians and patients.
Methods: Our pooled time-series design used results from a 2005 survey (targeting 14,921 physicians) and a separate 2008 survey (targeting 7003 different physicians). In both years, physicians practicing in the outpatient setting were targeted with proportionally identical sampling strategies. Combined data from questions focusing on email use were analyzed using chi-square analysis, Fisher exact test, and logistic regression.
Conclusions: Email use between physicians and patients has changed little between 2005 and 2008. However, future physician interest in using email with patients has decreased. More troubling is the decrease in adherence to best practices designed to protect physicians and patients when using email. Policy makers wanting to harness the potential benefits of physician-patient email should devise plans to encourage adherence to best practices. These plans should also educate physicians on the existence of best practices and methods to incorporate these guidelines into routine workflows.
(J Med Internet Res 2011;13(1):e23)