Only about 6% of parents now get e-mail advice from their child's healthcare provider, although 77% would do so if that service were available, according to the 1,420 parents surveyed in June by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor.
When asked what they thought would be a reasonable charge for an e-mail consultation, 48% of the respondents said $0.
Of the rest, 42% said $5 to $15 would be acceptable; 10% were OK with a $20 to $25 fee; and less than 1% found a fee of $30 or more to be reasonable.
That finding is problematic, said Sarah Clark, associate director of the National Poll on Children's Health and associate research scientist in the University of Michigan department of pediatrics.
Clark noted in a news release that providers say parents don't appreciate the “unseen workload” of e-mail consultation. This includes reviewing a child's history, documenting the e-mail conversation in an electronic health record, and the effort involved with ensuring that privacy and security are maintained in electronic messages.
That's why some who already provide this kind of service find it easier to support it via a monthly or annual fee rather than a per-consult charge.
Clark said it was hoped that this survey starts a conversation about the use and payment for service delivered via e-mail.
That conversation, however, is expected to be free of charge.
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