Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Even social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be used as a way by which patients and physicians can communicate. However, due to a lack of privacy and other potential legal pitfalls, only so much can or should be said by either the patient and, especially, the physician.
Physicians can offer general information, like the need to get the flu shot soon. However, they should stay away from discussing sensitive, specific, and private matters with anyone in such an electronic communication medium. As well, it's important that a formal doctor-physician relationship is maintained. It would be inappropriate for physicians to constantly post every detail of their private life to their patients. This is why it's best to avoid giving out a personal social media account. Instead, a professional social media account should be kept separate and reserved for patients.
There are numerous different types of electronic communication strategies by which patients and physicians can employ to send one another various forms of information. However, not all types of electronic communication strategies are suitable or appropriate at all times. This means:
- Secure patient portals can be used to send a wide variety of information between a patient and a physician.
- E-mail can be used to send some kinds of information, such as test results or reminders.
- Telephone calls can be used as a way to discuss important information, especially for patients who aren't comfortable with using the internet.
- Text messages should be used cautiously, perhaps to send reminders or confirm appointments. However, very private information should be avoided as some forms of text messaging are highly unsecure.
- Chat applications can be used by patients and physicians with no established doctor-patient relationship to ask for and send very general diagnostic and treatment advice.
- Social media can be a way by which physicians send very general information to their patients via a dedicated professional social media presence.
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