Vanderbilt starts billing for MyChart messages

Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center has started billing patients for MyChart messages that require medical advice.

More than 20 health systems now charge for patient portal interactions to get a handle on the huge jump in the volume of digital communications providers are receiving.

"Our clinicians had been letting us know that they were inundated with a large number of messages from patients," said Kelly Brown, MD, a Vanderbilt neurologist who led a committee tasked with addressing the issue, in an August news release. "While we absolutely know the importance of patients being connected with their care teams, we felt we could bring this more into balance with minor adjustments to our messaging process."

Providers can decide to bill patients for My Health at Vanderbilt messages if they take longer than five minutes to answer and involve a new medical problem or symptom, medication changes, chronic disease check-ins, changes to a condition, or form requests. The health system made the change in June.

Health systems have been split on whether to bill for the patient portal messages, with hospital executives having differing opinions on how effective the practice is. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic said Aug. 14 it would begin charging for the interactions.

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