Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Doctors Offices Not Keeping Up with Online Demand from Patients
In another poll reported in Modern Healthcare, 50% of patients say they would like to communicate online with their doctor or his office about clinical or administrative services. They would like to use web-based tools to schedule appointments, access immunization records or schedules, complete screening forms or refill prescriptions.
How many physician offices offer any one of these? Less than 15%.
It isn't a surprise to me that Doctors are so behind on implementing these patient connections. Most physicians are still working in solo or very small groups and they have neither the time or the resources to overhaul their offices. Communication with patients requires secure connections that are compliant with patient privacy legislation. Electronic programs require technical support and user fees. The costs are in hard green dollars, upfront...often in the tens of thousands of dollars. The advantages are harder to quantify. With overhead running 65-70% in primary care offices, the dollars involved come from the doctors pocket.
This is one of many reasons why physicians are joining hospital sponsored groups and employment situations. Running a business with such lean margins and tough government regulations makes it hard to keep up with new technology and services. Most doctors still practice like they did in 1950. We can't afford the technology that patients want. The world has moved on and medical offices just haven't keep up.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 6:55 AM