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e-Visit Data

By Clive Riddle

Patient online e-visits, introduced at the start of this decade, continue to gain momentum as technologies improve, consumer demand increases, experience from prior pilot studies becomes more widespread and major health plans advance and adopt e-visit initiatives. Here's a collection of some recent data on e-visits, compiled in MCOL's March @How-TO newsletter:

  • Trinity Clinic in Whitehouse, Texas, reports e-visits average five minutes, compared with 15 to 20 minutes for comparable office encounters, and averages one to two billable e-visits per month per doctor (1)
  • Medfusion, an e-visit vendor, has process half a million e-visits for about 2,500 physicians during the last three years (1)
  • McKesson's Relay Health, an e-visit vendor, charges physicians $25 per month per doctor for use of the web visit tools (2). RelayHealth, has 15,000 subscribing physicians (3)
  • Manhattan Research survey results found 31% of physicians reported using some type of online communication with their patients in the first quarter of 2007, up from 24% in 2005, and 19% in 2003 (3)
  • "National surveys suggest that the majority of online consumers now desire e-mail access to their physician and are willing to pay about $25 for an online consultation. A recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Poll found that 62 percent of patients said the ability to talk to a physician electronically would affect their choice of doctors and a Harris Interactive poll conducted in 2006 found that 74 percent of patients would like to use e-mail to communicate directly with their physicians." (3)
  • "A recent Kaiser Permanente study of patients who used the medical group’s secure e-mail system between 2002 and 2005 to access their physicians found that they phoned their physicians nearly 14 percent less than did patients not using the system, while each doctor averaged about two e-mail messages per day." (3)
  • "A two-year study of a pediatric rheumatologist’s e-mail and telephone interactions with 121 patient families, published in last October’s Pediatrics, found that the physician received an average of 1.2 e-mails per day, while answering patient questions by e-mail was 57 percent faster than using the telephone." (3)
  • "75% of patients polled in the 2007 WSJ/Harris poll reported that their doctor does not currently offer e-Visits or other e-services" (4)
  • "Blue Shield of California has estimated that the use of online patient-provider communications tools by its members will save the organization $4 million a year in office visit claims." (4) 

(1) Demand for e-visits grows but uptake still sluggish
Managed Healthcare Executive, November 1, 2007

(2) Physicians diagnose their patients via mouse calls
Akron Beacon Journal, March 10, 2008

(3) Online physician communication 
Physicians News Digest, March 2008 

(4) e-Visits:The Tipping Point - Are We There Yet?
Rhondda Francis, TransforMed, 2008 

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