A Survey of Patient Access to Electronic Mail: Attitudes, Barriers, and Opportunities

Reference: Fridsma, D. B.; Ford, P.; & Altman, R. A Survey of Patient Access to Electronic Mail: Attitudes, Barriers, and Opportunities. Knowledge Systems Laboratory, November, 1994.

Abstract: The use of electronic mail is increasing among both physicians and patients, though there is limited information in the literature about how patients might use e-mail to communicate with their physician. In our faculty internal medicine clinic, we have studied attitudes toward and access to e-mail among patients. A survey of 444 patients in our clinic showed a total of 46% of patients in the clinic have access to electronic mail, and 89% of those with electronic mail, had access through their workplace. Fifty-one percent would use electronic mail all or most of the time to communicate with the clinic, if e-mail was available, and many of the communications that currently take place by phone, could be replaced by e-mail. Barriers to use include privacy of electronic mail among patients that have access to e-mail in the workplace , choosing the appropriate tasks for e-mail, and methods for efficiently triaging electronic messages in the physician's clinic.

Notes: Updated November 1994.

Full paper available as ps.

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