Most internet-savvy Americans want to use Facebook, email to communicate with physicians

Most Americans are very interested in using email and social media platforms like Facebook to manage their health and communicate with physicians, according to a recent survey conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Survey respondents included 2,252 customers of a retail pharmacy who tended to be in good health, well educated and frequent users of Facebook. In the six months prior to the survey, 37 percent of respondents claimed to have already contacted their physicians through email. Another 18 percent reached out via Facebook.

This finding is important because most institutions discourage using social media to contact patients, according to Joy Lee, PhD, leader of the survey.

Additionally, 57 percent of respondents said they would like to be able to access health information through their physicians' websites. About 46 percent reported wanting the option to use email to track health progress.

"The findings highlight the gap between patient interest for online communication and what physicians may currently provide," Ms. Lee said in a statement. "Improving and accelerating the adoption of secure web-messaging systems is a possible solution that addresses both institutional concerns and patient demand."

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