Patient behavior if given their surgeon's cellular telephone number.
Technologic advances in communications potentially may affect the patient-doctor relationship. We assessed call patterns, reasons for calling, and attitudes if patients had their surgeon's cellular telephone number, to determine if there are potential benefits to this practice. Postoperative calls made by patients to the surgeon, secretary, and surgical scheduler were categorized as urgent or nonurgent. Twenty of 32 (63%) consecutive patients made 65 calls during a 2-month period. Only 12 calls (18%) were to the surgeon. Fifty percent were urgent, as opposed to 14% and 15% of calls to the secretary and surgical scheduler, respectively. Subsequently, 201 patients were prospectively administered a 10-question survey assessing patient attitudes if given direct access to their surgeon. Eighty percent owned a cellular telephone, 85% would call the surgeon, and 30% would prefer the surgeon as the first line of communication. Communicating through E-mail or home phone was less desirable than through the nurse or cellular telephone. Seventy-two percent thought that having cellular telephone access suggested that their surgeon was more caring. Patients desired to communicate directly with surgeons, but act with restraint and call as a last resort for mostly urgent issues if given the physician's cellular telephone number. The cellular telephone has promising benefits for the patient-physician relationship.
Chin, KR; Adams, SB; Khoury, L; Zurakowski, D
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