(HealthDay News) — From 2001 to 2010 the volume of patient-to-physician electronic messages increased, but the rate per-capita stabilized, according to research published in Health Affairs.

Bradley H. Crotty, MD, MPH, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues examined the volume of messages in a large academic health system’s patient portal from 2001 to 2010. Data were used to examine trends in secure email messaging between patients and physicians.

The researchers found that 22.7% of all patients seen within the system had enrolled in the portal at the end of 2010; more than one-third (36.9%) of enrolled patients (8.4% of all patients) had sent at least one message to a physician. 

During the study period, the volume of email messages nearly tripled for physicians. Per hundred patients, the number of messages stabilized between 2005 and 2010, at an average of 18.9 messages.

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“As physician reimbursement moves toward global payments, physicians’ and patients’ participation in secure messaging will likely increase, and electronic communication should be considered part of physicians’ job descriptions,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Crotty BH et al. Health Aff. 2014;33(10):1817-1822.