Patient-Doctor Communication Shows Positive Health Effects: Study

In a recent study conducted by Dutch scientists, electronic communication between doctors and patients has turned out to yield more positive health effects. The various mediums of electronic communication reviewed in the study included email, messages, patient-facing EHR etc. Scientists concluded that using effective communication between patient and doctor significantly affects care outcomes, health behavior, and patient satisfaction. In the paper, recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers looked particularly at studies focused on chronically ill patients.

Also see: Why EMRs Are Crucial To Patient Satisfaction

Authors Catharina Carolina de Jong, Wynand JG Ros, and Guus Schrijvers wrote, “Asynchronous communication is used by patients and it helps to increase the effects on health behavior and health outcomes, at least for some. Patients seem to be interested in using email and understand how to use it. They use email for questions about biomedical concerns, medication, and test results, as well as to inform the providers about non-urgent health issues. They tend to prefer email to telephone for this communication.” [@HealthITplus]

A total of 385 candidates were screened for the study out of which 15 that met the criteria for the study, were selected by the researchers. The studies were conducted across the world, albeit most of the studies were conducted in the United States. The various range of diseases and illnesses covered during the studies included unspecified chronic illnesses, chronic pain, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic neurological conditions, and congestive heart failure. Only one study was a randomized control trial.

Researchers found that the studies that had been conducted had different outcome measures, which they divided into health behaviors, health outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

7 out of the 15 studies reported an effect on health behaviors, with little to average effects, whereas 12 reported an effect on health outcomes, including a decrease in symptoms. The researchers also included psychosocial outcomes in the category of health outcomes.

“In one study, personal well-being increased for both intervention groups (interactive and information only) in comparison to the control group with usual care,” the authors wrote. “[Another study] showed improvement in quality of life for asthma patients. An increased acceptance of the illness was also shown, as well as increased self-esteem, empowerment, and social support … Patients seemed to feel better when they had an Internet-based connection with their providers.”

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