One of my continuing frustrations is that I can't contact my medical practitioners by e-mail.
I know most have it. My dentist often talks about his computer problems when I'm in his chair, sometimes even asking my advice. But when it's time to schedule a new appointment, I get a postcard. Then a phone call.
The same is true for our pediatrician, for our family doctor, and for my chiropractor. The same is probably true for you.
The reason, according to Marilee Variegas, is HIPAA. HIPAA raises the cost of a doctor's e-mail exponentially. You have to control who sees it. You should encrypt it. Then there are the liability issues.
As a result, she suggests, doctors who offer to stay in e-mail contact with patients should charge for it.
At some practices, patients pay a flat rate from $100 to several hundred dollars per year for this type of service. Harvard professor of medicine Dr. Daniel Z. Sands, a proponent to a digital clinic, stated "I think it’s reasonable to assume that if lawyers and accountants charge for time, then physicians should too.
Dr. Sands (above) has a full page of advice to doctors regarding e-mail policies, which includes extensive links to a variety of good articles on the subject, as well as links to vendors and others. It has no advertising, no sponsors. It's a very good thing.
So, would you stay in e-mail contact with patients if they paid you for it? Should they have to pay you for it, given the productivity gains simple e-mail offers any office?