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  • 1. Björk, Anna Bell
    et al.
    Hillborg, Helene
    Augutis, Marika
    Umefjord, Göran
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine.
    Evolving techniques in text-based medical consultation: Physicians' long-term experiences at an Ask the doctor service2017In: International Journal of Medical Informatics, ISSN 1386-5056, E-ISSN 1872-8243, Vol. 105, p. 83-88Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Introduction: Both the demands and the options for patients to communicate with health care providers utilizing eHealth solutions are increasing. Some patients, or relatives to patients, want to consult another health care provider than the regular one, merely in text.

    Objective: To improve text-based medical consultation by learning from long-term experiences.

    Materials and methods: Physicians with comprehensive experience of answering free-text medical inquiries at an official health portal in Sweden were interviewed. The interviews were analyzed using a grounded theory approach.

    Results: Over time, the interviewed physicians developed strategies on how to formulate the answer to a medical inquiry from a previously unknown inquirer. The answering physicians experienced their primary role as providers of medical information and as mediators between an inquirer and the regular health care provider. Many of the answering physicians experienced a personal development with improved communication skills, also in face-to-face meetings with patients.

    Conclusion: Text-based medical consultation is part of an expanding area in eHealth. The development of strategies, guidelines, ethical considerations as well as educational efforts are needed to optimize the skills of asynchronous text-based health consultation.

  • 2.
    Umefjord, Göran
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine.
    Sandström, Herbert
    Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine.
    Malker, Hans
    Petersson, Göran
    Medical text-based consultations on the Internet: a 4-year study.2008In: International Journal of Medical Informatics, ISSN 1386-5056, E-ISSN 1872-8243, ISSN 1386-5056, Vol. 77, no 2, p. 114-121Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    BACKGROUND: The Internet is increasingly used for health matters including Ask the doctor services. AIM: To describe users and usage pattern of text-based medical consultation with family physicians on the Internet. METHODS: Descriptive analysis of the first 4 years' use of a Swedish Ask the doctor service concerning number of inquiries, age and gender of inquirers. Time of day and week, types of medical inquiries, and use in relation to population density was analyzed during the last year of the study. RESULTS: We found a considerable number of users, with 38,217 inquiries submitted to the service. Three-fourths of the inquirers were women, thus exceeding the gender difference seen in regular health care. The typical user was a woman aged 21-60 years. The service was used any time day or night, 7 days a week. Almost half of the inquiries were submitted during evenings and nights. Most areas of medicine were represented in the inquiries, reflecting the fact that there was no control of what an inquiry should include. The use was widespread over the country but more frequent per capita in more densely populated areas as defined by postal code. CONCLUSION: In the study of a service for text-based consultations with family physicians on the Internet, we found a geographically widely distributed use, slowly but gradually increasing during a 4-year period. The use increased more rapidly among young and middle-aged women. Asynchronous text-based consultation is likely to expand in the near future.

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