What method of communication is most preferred by patients for receiving medical test results? A survey conducted by the Georgetown University Medical Center suggests patients do not mind a variety of non-in-person communication methods however one method in particular is highly preferred. Findings from the study are published in the Journal of the American Board of  Family Medicine

Jeannine LaRocque, PhD, the study’s lead researcher, aimed to better understand patient preferences in order to improve doctor-patient communication. The survey examined the desirability of seven non-in-person communication methods (password-protected patient portal website, phone voicemail, personal email, letter, home voicemail, fax, and mobile phone text) in receiving three different kinds of tests: common tests (eg, blood cholesterol, colonoscopy); non-HIV sexually transmitted infections (STIs); and genetic testing (eg, predisposition to disorder, carrier of an inherited gene linked to a disease, and carrier of a genetic disorder).

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The survey found that the highest number of patients was comfortable receiving test results through password-protected websites or portals. Though this method was highly preferred, participants were comfortable with various non-in-person communication methods, including email, texts or voicemail for receiving results of common tests. The majority reported not wanting to receive a home voicemail, mobile text message or fax. 

But for two very sensitive tests–non-HIV sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and genetic test results–the password-protected patient portal/website was highly preferred at rates of 51% and 46%, respectively. 

Receiving information via fax was reported as being least comfortable among patients. 

Findings from the study highlight that the majority of patients prefer a different method than the common phone call or email. Password-protected websites provide additional security, which may be necessary as these tests become more prevalent in primary care settings, concluded Dr. LaRocque. 

For more information visit gumc.georgetown.edu.