There are lots of ways patients can improve their overall health, but a recent study published in the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) found that those who used email to initiate conversations with their providers improved their overall health more than those who did not use email.
The study included over 1,000 patients with a chronic condition and found that overall, 56% of patients sent their provider an email within 1 year. Among patients who had emailed their provider, 42% reported that it reduced their phone contacts, 36% reduced in-person office visits and 32% improved their overall health.
What does this mean for healthcare providers?
Obviously, this isn’t to say that simply having patients use email will increase their overall health. The study focuses on patients with chronic conditions who will typically be more engaged in their treatment than an average patient. But it does show that having email as an option for patient communication can help reduce patient visits and contacts, while maintaining a high level of care.
Part of the reasoning hypothesized in the study, is that patients with higher out-of-pocket costs for office visits or phone calls, rely on email as a means of first contact. This can mean that when looking for a new provider, having email as an option could help those in private practice attract new customers. With healthcare costs on the rise and co-pays increasing, this could be a growing trend.
Secure email and patient portals
One interesting aspect of the study, was that it was focused around those who emailed securely using a patient portal system. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released statistics in 2015 that showed patient portals are still not being used. 66% of US hospitals in the study reported zero patients attempting to access their patient portals.
So while the study shows email is a convenient means of communication that can help healthcare providers deliver care more efficiently, real world statistics is showing that locking email up behind a patient portal is not doing anyone any good.
HIPAA compliant email without the portals
Paubox helps close the gap between patients and providers, through our seamless encrypted email solution. Providers can write and send email as normal from any device, and Paubox encrypts the email in transit straight to the recipient’s email. Even better, inbound email can also be encrypted and is scanned for SPAM or phishing attacks.