Patients prefer Secure-Mail when communicating with clinics

A recent survey of patients using Brightsquid Secure-Mail with their doctor’s office asked to rate, compare, and describe the experience. The results are an important indicator that secure-mail services like Secure-Mail are long overdue as clinical practice in the eyes of patients. Responses came from across patient demographics with 50% of respondents between the ages of 50 and 69, and almost two thirds of participants identified as female.

How patients prefer to communicate with their Doctor:

The survey asked patients to rank three communication methods (secure-mail, face-to-face, and phone) across six typical patient-physician interactions. Results show that patients prefer secure email over phone and over face-to-face visits for most types of interactions, especially standard exchanges of information or a quick clarifying question. Office visits are preferred when a patient issue is less routine and potentially more concerning.

Secure-Mail was preferred by most respondents for;

  • Obtaining results of a routine blood test or x-ray (76%)
  • A question about medication (68%)
  • Providing follow up on how a therapy is working (63%)

Secure-mail ranked second to face-to-face office visit in the other three scenarios;

  • A general health problem (cold symptoms, rash etc.)(35%)
  • Telling my doctor about a change in health status(34%)
  • To discuss a personal problem (10%) (tied with phone)

Office visits ranked first for two unsurprising scenarios:

  • Discuss a personal problem (81%)
  • Telling my doctor about a change in health status (58%)

Office visit were least preferred for:

  • Obtaining results of a routine blood test or x-ray (9%)
  • A question about medication (10%)

What patients like about using Brightsquid Secure-Mail:

When patients were asked to explain what they like about using protected email to communicate with their physician, 99 of 104 responded. Comments centered around appreciating convenience, confidentiality, and the speed with which issues can be resolved. Sample responses:

  • “[I like] The security and it is simple to use.”
  • “Communications are very fast, rather than waiting for an appointment to discuss what can be done by email.”
  • “It’s quick, allows for communication that doesn’t really need a doctor’s visit. There have been times when I just needed a short answer to a question that in the past would have taken doctor’s visit to accommodate. This is much faster. It also eliminates having to talk to a receptionist then a nurse before talking to the doctor.”
  • “Direct line of communication – feel connected.”
  • “Expeditious use of time. No phoning & waiting online or leaving voice mail by Dr’s office. I too can send a message much faster & convenient. Also there is a written record of conversation that is good to have for both sides so as to check back on for clarification or reminder.”
  • “I was able to download the requisition form for the lab without coming in.”
  • “I absolutely love it. It’s easy and efficient and works for my timing-as well as the Drs. I am a huge fan.”
  • “Perfect secure way to communicate”

What patients dislike about using Brightsquid Secure-Mail:

Conversely, when asked for criticism of the service, patients had less to say. 89 people answered the question, and 62 of those responses can be categorized under, “there’s nothing I don’t like” or “I haven’t had a chance to use it”. Many responses continued to be positive. The patients that voiced dislike, raised concerns about remembering passwords (a step required for regulatory compliance), difficulty using the service, their own computer literacy, and an occasional preference to speak directly with their physician. It is apparent, through these responses, that there is a need for some additional patient education. Sample responses:

  • “No complaints thus far. As with any new experience, could take time to become completely comfortable.”
  • “I would like to have my two email addresses connected.”
  • “Extra passwords to remember.”
  • “The extra step to connect and login.”
  • “No experience with it. Do you respond quickly to communications?”
  • “Nothing, what’s not to like.”
  • “It’s a complicated system. I would prefer direct contact through email instead of having to log in to this system for contact.”

Which word(s) best describe how you feel about using Secure-Mail to communicate with your Doctor/Clinic?

Overwhelmingly, the words used by patients to describe their feelings toward using Secure Health Exchange are positive. Out of 104 responses the most common word used was ‘Confidential’ (95), followed closely by ‘Convenient’ (88), and ‘Easy’ (86). Next in line were ‘Time-saving’ (74) and ‘Innovative’ (43). On the other end of the scale, 8 of 104 patients said the service was ‘Impersonal’. 6 indicated it was ‘Tedious’, and 4 selected ‘Awkward’. One user described the service as ‘Risky’, and one other patient referred to it as ‘Intimidating’.

Medical-grade messaging for every clinical relationship:

Excitement around Brightsquid Secure-Mail extends beyond users and practitioners in medical clinics. As one clinic assistant words it, “Patient response has been phenomenal.” Any reservations clinics have about implementing secure-mail as a means to strengthen their connection with patients are easily dismissed in practice. Coupled with the benefits of using Secure-Mail for inter-clinic team-based care coordination, the accelerated asynchronous patient communication made possible with the proven service is helping clinics advance care and reduce burden on the system without requiring additional effort.