Not many pediatric doctors are like Dr. Michael Crocetti of Johns Hopkins Children's Center in that they forbid patient communication via email. A study conducted by Crocetti and Dr. Robert Dudas presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, however, indicates that those same patients would like to see that trend change.
Out of the 229 parents surveyed, 75 percent (171) said they were "regular email users." Ninety percent of those parents (154) indicated that they were open to using email to communicate with their child's doctor, although African-American respondents and those making $30,000 or less annually were much less likely to agree.
"We have to embrace electronic communication in some way," Crocetti told the Baltimore Sun. "We're going to need to figure out how to integrate it into the practice of medicine...And before we incorporate email into mainstream medical practice, we need to factor in any racial, cultural or socioeconomic preferences."
Crocetti hasn't advertised his openness to having parents email him, yet he says that already, 25 percent of his patients' parents are getting a hold of him online more and more. Still, he has concerns about things getting out of hand if he doesn't eventually begin routing his emails.
Other doctors, like Scott Krugman, chairman of pediatrics at Franklin Square Hospital Center--which does not allow patients to email their doctors--have similar concerns. He worries that while some parents will try to email doctors about every little detail in their child's life, others will try to send an email in an emergency situation.
"If you send an email to someone who checks their email once a day, you could be in big trouble," Krugman said. He also worries about doctors being uncompensated for their care.