Can E-Mail Use Improve Patient-Provider Communication?

Provider satisfaction was higher but patients were not affected by use of cell phones, email, text messaging
Provider satisfaction was higher but patients were not affected by use of cell phones, email, text messaging

HealthDay News — Providers who give patients their e-mail addresses have higher satisfaction, but this does not appear to impact patient satisfaction, according to a study published recently in the European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare.

Joy L. Lee, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined provider patterns of communication with patients outside of the clinic setting via cell phone, e-mail, and text messaging, as well as the relationship between communication behaviors and patient satisfaction. In the year before clinic implementation of a new electronic health record system with secure patient-messaging capabilities, a 16-question survey of 149 mid-Atlantic primary care providers in community practice was conducted. 

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The researchers found that providers who gave patients their e-mail addresses were more likely to communicate with their patients electronically than those who did not. In addition, the overall satisfaction scores for providers who made their e-mail addresses available to patients were significantly higher than those who did not. Individual satisfaction domains did not differ significantly. Use of cell phones, e-mail, and text messaging was not associated with patient satisfaction domains.

"This study elucidates the relationship between provider communication behaviors and patient satisfaction," the authors write. "A better understanding of the role of the patient-provider relationship and its role in patient satisfaction may help practices and providers improve their patients' experience of primary care."

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