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Cancer Communication Research Center
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Is texting the new house call?

Henton

Last month, there was an article in the New York Times about doctors using text messaging to discuss health information with adolescent patients. Several doctors who were interviewed have found texting to be the most efficient form of communication with teens, who "live and die" for their cell phones. Cell phones are an important tool for teens in the following ways: 1. They allow teens to easily access information (one doctor had posters on her wall with QR codes that could be scanned and linked to websites); 2. They allow teens to discreetly discuss sensitive health information without embarrassment; and 3. Perhaps most important of all, it's convenient.

Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into texting patients, mainly pertaining to privacy and confidentiality. However, as people become more reliant on technology to find and transfer information, things have to change, and while the article focused only on teenagers, adults are just as tech savvy. Email has become very common in some health organizations to allow doctors and patients to communicate with each other without having to schedule an appointment. But as we continue to move more towards what is convenient for patients, as house calls were "back in the day," texting is an immediate, easy, and perhaps will be a common way doctors and patients communicate with each other.

Michelle Henton
Senior Research Assistant, CCRC
KPCO

Written by CCRC at 13:11

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