AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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New Study Probes Patients’ Preferences for Receiving Test Results

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The results of common medical tests are sometimes delivered to patients by email, letters or voice mail, but according to a new study, these are not always the most preferred methods. A Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) survey, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, found that the largest portion of participants were comfortable receiving test results through password-protected websites or portals (not including in-person communications). The survey of 409 participants also suggests that while password-protected web portals are highly preferred, participants don’t mind a variety of non in-person communication methods, including email, texts or voicemail for receiving results of common tests such as blood-cholesterol levels. However, that was not the case for two very sensitive tests — non-HIV sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and genetic test results. In those cases, receiving the results via a password-protected patient portal/website was highly preferred. “Communication with patients may need to be on a case-by-case basis — every individual may have a personal preference, and there may be a way to indicate those preferences in the patient’s record. The goal of this study was to try to better understand these preferences, so we can improve doctor-patient communication,” said the study’s lead researcher. However, because the majority of completed surveys were administered online, those who participated may be innately more comfortable with electronic communication, which could be a potential bias of the study. To read more, click here.

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