New research suggests that e-mail consultations benefit patients and it’s inexpensive With e-mail being an essential communication tool for increasing numbers, it is strange that it’s underused in the context of doctor-patient consultation.
A team at Imperial College, London, has been surveying the opinions of doctors and patients on e-mail consultation.
There were many advantages to e-mail, they found. Both doctor and patient could save time by using e-mail, especially since messages can be sent and received from almost anywhere these days. And in the context of reducing the need for face-to-face consultation – and a visit to the surgery – e-mail is useful for managing chronic problems like diabetes and weight control. And the e-mail route could improve access to care for those with physical disability and those living in remote areas. The main problems, which are by no means insurmountable, relate to lack of supporting infrastructure which could lead to security issues. After all, an e-mail consult should be as private as one carried out in the doctor’s surgery.
British Medical Journal 21st August 2004 Volume 329