There are two types of things that surround the doctor-patient encounter: there is signal and there is noise. By “signal” we refer to things like rapport, relationship, trust, communication, empathy and so forth. By “noise” we mean nuisances like: appointment scheduling, payment, insurance forms, telephone calls, prescriptions, referrals etc. During the signal part, the actual medical problem gets solved. The noise part is the bureaucracy, the necessary evil that comes with the encounter. If you are a startup that’s focusing on how to improve the doctor-patient encounter, a survey of 843 Americans conducted by the communications company Capstrad might be of special interest to you. When asked if they would take advantage of social media tools like Facebook or Twitter if their doctor offered them, only 11% answered yes. Similarly, only 20% would use chat or instant messaging and a mere 31% would use an online forum. On the other hand, 48% would use online bill payment tools, 50% would like to have online access to medical records and 56% would schedule their appointments on the web.
As Karen Albritton, Capstrad’s president put it in a press release:
It appears consumers are willing to move administrative experiences such as bill payment and records access online, but when it comes to conferring with their healthcare providers, people still prefer more traditional communications. The implications include a way for doctors to free up more time for their patients by moving the right interactions online, and an opportunity to forge stronger connections through personal interaction.
This is in line with our philosophy at MedCrunch: we use online tools and apps for efficiency and productivity but at the same time, we don’t forget to hone our clinical- and people-skills, they are at the heart of our jobs. Or in other words, we like to “reduce the noise and increase the signal”.