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Patient & Physician Electronic Communication: Types & Examples

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson goes over the many different ways by which patients and physicians can communicate with one another, as well as the potential pitfalls of many of them.

Electronic Communication

On any given day it's highly likely that you use social media, e-mail, text and the like to chat away about all sorts of things with friends and family. Social media, e-mail, and text are all examples of electronic communication.

And like you argue over the latest twists and turns of a TV series with friends via all of these means, you can use these means of communication to inform your physician about something you're concerned about or learn something important from them.

In this lesson, we're going to go over some of the types and examples of electronic communications patients and physicians can have with one another. As we do this, we'll also learn about a few important nuances surrounding many of them.

Patient Portal

One of the better known ways by which patients and physicians can communicate with one another is via a patient portal. This is a website where a patient and doctor can log in in order to send one another messages, reminders, schedule appointments, update test results, and the like. These websites are basically a one-stop shop for communication between a patient and physician. They often (should) have the added benefit of being highly secure, ways by which sensitive conversations and information can be sent and stored.

E-Mail

Besides patient portals, one of the most obvious and best examples of electronic communication is e-mail. For example, e-mail can be used to send a patient his or her test results without the patient having to come into the office to pick up the test results. While many patients are definitely willing to communicate via e-mail with their physicians, physicians aren't as gung-ho about it for many reasons. Some reasons are legal concerns, such as those stemming from a potential misunderstanding when e-mailing information. Other concerns include privacy issues, such as the worry that very sensitive information might be exposed during a hack.

Telephone & Text

Another quite obvious example of electronic communication is the plain old telephone. Yep, making a phone call is a form of electronic communication. For instance, a patient may be able to call a physician to chat about those test results they got via e-mail in order to get something explained. While many physicians would be happy to chat with their patients over the phone, many others would not be. One potential reason for this is that they may not have enough time scheduled in for phone calls during the day or they may want to be reimbursed for the extra time they spend on phone calls.

The telephone, especially smartphones, are also used for text messaging, yet another type of electronic communication. As an example, some patients may feel it's convenient for them to send a quick text to their doctor to inform the doctor of a change in their diet, which may ultimately impact how they are treated.

While some patients may feel that sending text messages is an OK way to communicate with physicians, many physicians aren't as comfortable doing so for numerous reasons. One potential problem is a lack of encryption and thus the security of sensitive information sent via text messages.

Chat Applications

Moving down the list of potential ways by which patients and physicians can communicate is via various chat applications and websites. This is where patients and physicians, who have no established relationship, can interact with one another electronically. Commonly, the patient pays a set fee in order to ask a doctor a single question or have a chat with them. Because such a form of communication does not establish a technical doctor-patient relationship, physicians can only communicate broad-based advice on what the possible solutions to a problem might be, but no definitive diagnostic or treatment information is given (in most circumstances).

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