A large number of patients use online communication tools such as email and Facebook to engage with their physicians, despite recommendations from some hospitals and professional organizations that clinicians limit email contact with patients and avoid “friending” patients on social media, new research suggests.
The findings from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers suggest a disconnect between what patients expect and what physicians – concerned about confidentiality and being overwhelmed in off-hours – are willing to do when it comes to online dialogue.
The study is published online June 24 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
“The medical establishment needs to figure out how best to incorporate this reality into their practice while properly ensuring security safeguards,” says study leader Dr. Joy Lee, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School. “This is an area where there is significant patient interest, but institutions and health care providers haven’t caught up.”