, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 662-667

Here’s My Phone Number, Don’t Call Me: Physician Accessibility in the Cell Phone and E-mail Era

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Abstract

Physician accessibility, for example how available a doctor should be by cell phone or e-mail is an important issue that is not well understood. There can be large differences between the expectations of patients and the perspective of their providers. The rationale for providing accessibility has historical roots and relates to the very basis of the physician–patient relationship and the effects on patient outcomes. While patients may want this line of communication, physicians may worry about disruption from unexpected phone calls, being requested to provide advice without access to records and providing services without adequate remuneration among other concerns. Herein, we discuss the rationale for these concerns, and provide suggestions on how we might overcome them. We suggest a framework with guidelines on establishing and maintaining remote accessibility with patients in the context of a productive physician–patient relationship.