Doctors –you’ve Got Mail

by Ann Samuel on  February 5, 2007 at 12:14 PM News on IT in Healthcare   - G J E 4
Doctors –you’ve Got Mail
In this 'net'-overworked world surprisingly few doctors are 'logged' in.

For years the medical world was prophesied to merge with Internet technology and result in doctor- patient e-mailing, but oddly enough this has not happened.

Research published in Wall Street Journal Online shows only 8 percent of adults receive e-mail from their doctors.

An year back another research showed that though 25 percent of doctors profess to email their patients, the actual figure of those who do so regularly is quite lower.

Debra Roter, a researcher who studies doctor-patient communication at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore says that medicine is surprisingly lagging behind the world in this field.

The reasons behind this are varied and more blame seems to rest on the shoulders of doctors rather than patients.

The reasons include doctors' fears of e-mail adding uncompensated and increased workload to their weeks, fears of patients' confidentiality being compromised and patients being in obvious danger of communicating urgent medical problems via e-mail instead of directly.

Advances in technology seem to be answering these fears. There are now websites, which enable doctors to access their patients' records without compromising their security and also fully electronic medical record files for lesser hassles.

Both doctors and patients feel the rewards. Doctors are grateful that they don't have to rely on scribbled notes taken down by intermediaries and patients breathe a sigh of relief as they gain instant access to their doctors and in their own words.

Also in spite of what they feared, doctors agree that patients are definitely e-mail worthy, as they use crisp accurate phrases and perfectly appropriate words.

In Singapore there is a move to link all physicians' IT systems so that they are able to check all of their patients' medical records.

This was previously limited to hospitals with the National Health Group and the decision is expected to reduce administrative mix-ups and lesser mistakes in prescription of medicines.

Rightly echoing sentiments of physicians around the world Chan Yeng Kit, CEO Infocomm Development Authority,Singapore says: "The clinicians themselves must feel ownership for this; they must believe that this is something useful to them. IT is a supporting element; it is not the driving element. What the clinicians want to do, what the doctors want to do must be the main objective ."

Source: Medindia

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