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With all the advancements in medicine, today’s healthcare environment has devolved when it comes to communication and patient satisfaction. Physicians are feeling the pressure now more than ever, to see a greater number of patients each day due to the increase in practice and malpractice insurance costs. Many providers have voiced their concerns about diminished time with patients for more than a decade.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61 percent of American adults went online for health information in 2009. This is up from 46 percent in 2000. Being an active participant in healthcare planning is essential in the shared medical decision making process. Since patients are now researching their health online, they are bringing more questions to the doctor. This may be discouraged by some practices because of the need for providers to get in and out of the exam room quickly. Half of patients leave their appointment without a full understanding of what their doctor communicated to them. That said, the majority of doctors want their patients to be engaged in decisions concerning their medical care and treatment planning. So how does one take the extra time needed for these patients and not decrease the amount of patients seen daily?

One suggestion is to allow patients to email questions to the physician or other medical staff. With the implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), many practices are adding patient portals that allow their patients to interact and communicate with their healthcare providers online. Another suggestion is to communicate with patients on a general level on social media networks such as Facebook. Answering questions online allows patients to feel a stronger connection with their provider. It also addresses the needs of others seeking similar information and can open your practice to more patients.

All of this takes time; however, it is more important than ever to make a connection with patients. The connections made today will help the practice grow tomorrow!