Doctors remain slow to use email with patients

Whether or not physicians should use email to communicate with patients is a heated topic. For example, have you read the Wall Street Journal debate that came out in 2012? Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health in Boston, went head-to-head with Dr. Sam Bierstock, Founder and President of Champions in Healthcare in Florida, on this very issue.

Despite the clash in views, the Kantar Media Sources & Interactions Study, March 2013 – Medical/Surgical Edition, found that only 28% of physicians say they use email to communicate with patients. Overall, this percentage has barely shifted over the last two years.

The age of the physicians isn’t a differentiator either. Younger doctors tend to use email to communicate with patients as frequently as older physicians.


Percentage That Use Email to Communicate with Patients

Under 35 years old


35-44 years old


35-59 years old


60+ years old


The one major difference found in the study is that 45% of Key Opinion Leaders use email to communicate with patients, a significant difference compared with other physicians. Time will tell if email will ever hit the mainstream in patient communication or if the phone will always be the top choice, but at the very least, the fact that almost half of KOLs communicate through email is a data point that we’ll want to revisit again in 2014.

Kantar Media’s Sources & Interactions™ Studies offer a detailed examination of healthcare professionals’ online and mobile activities, e-detailing experience, and exposure to (and evaluation of) information sources including traditional and emerging media, pharma reps, CME, conventions and more. The Medical/Surgical edition, conducted every six months, reports on the media preferences and habits of more than 3,000 physicians across 21 specialties; annual studies provide similar perspective on Pharmacy, NP/PA, Eyecare, Dental, Radiology, Managed Care, and Hospital C-Suite audiences. Sources & Interactions was designed to help manufacturers and their agencies cost-effectively allocate resources to their overall promotional mix, and provide publishers with specific insight about where their offerings fit into physicians’ (and other healthcare professionals’) information inventory.

To find out more about the study and specialty-specific data, let us know.

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