Medical Records, Email, Social Media: Do Patients Want More Access?

As with the general public, the use of electronic communications among physicians, including medical billing services has picked up steam over the last several years.

For starters, the number of physicians who use the Internet has increased. According to a 2011 Technology Survey, 74 percent of hospital-owned and 66 percent of independent practices out of a pool of 1,013 respondents said their medical practice has a website. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said their practice manager and physicians use e-mail to communicate with patients.

In an article for HealthLeaders Media in 2009, author Gienna Show contended that today’s patients are impressed by physicians who embrace technology.

  • Patients prefer providers who use Internet-based tools to augment care.
  • 55% want to communicate with their doctors via e-mail to exchange health information, obtain medical billing information, and to get answers to questions.
  • 68% are interested in remote monitoring devices that allow self-monitoring of their condition and electronic reporting of results to their physician.
  • The figure was even higher for seniors (78%) and consumers with chronic conditions (75%).

Figures are from Deloitte’s 2009 survey of healthcare consumers

Many physicians are using the latest technologies to build an ongoing relationship with patients.  This allows their medical practice to provide better health care at a lower cost.  Patients want to be able to access physicians by email and to set up appointments using the Internet.

Roland Goertz, MD, MBA, president of the AAFP, said in a statement. “Sixty-two percent of family physicians do provide same-day appointments and 30 percent correspond with patients via e-mail. The percentage of family physicians who provide online appointments has tripled since 2005.”

Utilizing software for patient scheduling, medical billing, and EMR is another way for physicians to embrace technology.  Just as there are complexities in diagnosing and treating patients, medical billing can be a complex process because of healthcare and legal regulations, ever-changing codes and Medicare and HIPPA compliance issues. Converting to EMR software can also be complex, depending on the technology solution you choose—premise or web-based software. However once an office converts, the time invested will be recouped quickly. Fortunately, as an early adopter, Clinic Service developed and continuously improved our  own medical billing/EMR and EHR software for over 16 years.

Communicating with medical practices via email and through web conferencing has really helped us save time and streamline communication with physicians.  Social media is still relatively new to us and we fully embrace it—one step at a time. We would enjoy connecting with you on LinkedIn and Twitter. What technologies are you using in your practice? We would enjoy learning what works for you. If you want to reach me the “old fashioned” way through email, drop me a line And of course I always answer my phone 303-755-2900.

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