It used to be that if you had any type of ailment, your only course of action was to call your doctor and make an appointment to have your symptoms checked out. In today’s highly connected world, however, we are also able to gain answers in other ways.
For example, imagine that you suddenly experienced back pain on a Sunday afternoon, but you hadn’t engaged in any strenuous activities that might have caused said pain. You could drive to the local emergency room, wait until Monday to call your doctor, or look up your symptoms online. A growing number of people choose the last option as a way to gain peace of mind and to feel like they’re not alone. Of course, conversing with your peers on the web is not a substitute for seeking actual medical attention, but it can help you to gauge whether your injury is life-threatening or something that can wait until tomorrow.
One potential way to link these experiences, seeing your doctor versus conversing with peers, is to have the ability to converse with your doctor via email. In The Wall Street Journal’s article titled "Should Physicians Use Email to Communicate with Patients?" , the repercussions of such an arrangement are examined on both sides. The pro-email communication concedes that email is no substitute for a face-to-face consultation, but that it can be used to reinforce instructions from a previous appointment while building a stronger physician-patient relationship.
On the other side of the coin, the use of email by physicians brings up concerns such as privacy and compensation. It is also argued that doctors wouldn’t have time to address the concerns of all of their patients via email.
Given the way in which we are increasingly connected via social media and other outlets, it only seems inevitable that this would trickle down to healthcare in the near future. What form this takes, however, is still under debate.