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Patient satisfaction and provider use of electronic communication: A cross-sectional analysis

Joy L Lee, Sydney M. Dy, Steven J. Kravet, Bimal H. Ashar, Todd Nesson, Albert W. Wu


Background: The way patients and providers communicate with one another outside of the clinic is changing. However, little is known about primary care provider perspectives and experiences of these changes and whether these provider behaviors correlate with patient satisfaction. This study examines provider patterns of communication with patients outside of the clinic setting via cellphone, email and text messaging and the relationship between communication behaviors and patient satisfaction.

Method: Cross-sectional analysis of the association between patient satisfaction scores and a 16-question community survey of 149 Mid-Atlantic primary care providers in community practice was conducted in the year prior to clinic implementation of a new electronic health record system with secure patient-messaging capabilities.

Results: Providers who gave patients their email addresses were more likely to communicate with their patients electronically than those who did not. Providers who made their email addresses available to patients also had significantly higher overall satisfaction scores than those who did not, although there were no statistically significant differences in individual satisfaction domains. The use of these cellphone, email and text-messaging were also not found to be associated with patient satisfaction domains.   

Conclusions: Provider provision of their email addresses may be an indicator of a stronger relationship with certain patients. This study elucidates the relationship between provider communication behaviors and patient satisfaction. A better understanding of the role of the patient-provider relationship and its role in patient satisfaction may help practices and providers improve their patients’ experience of primary care.



Patient satisfaction; provider use of electronic communication; patient-provider communication

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