Unplugged and Unmoored

September 16, 2016
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All of my scheduling with the research nurse in charge of the clinical trial in which I participate occurs electronically. She sends me the dates and times of appointments as well as reminders about where to go for tests; then she emails me results. Once when I was terribly ill, I texted her in alarm and she phoned my local pharmacy with a prescription that did the trick. Now my email wasn’t even working on my cellphone. We were disconnected.

Throughout seven years of cancer treatment, I had emailed my oncologist with questions. Of course I limited myself to crucial problems, but knowing that I could rely on her expertise gave me a wonderful sense of security.

To email or not to email: I suspect this must be a question in medical circles these days. If electronic messaging with patients were to become more common, how could already busy physicians find the time to read and respond? Might they have to hire staff members to deal with inquiries and wouldn’t that effectively invalidate the personal reply patients seek? And how would they pay for it?

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Image: By Ferran – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37201998

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