With the growing use of digital technology, texts, emails and online “patient portals” have become commonplace. But is it easier to talk on the phone or receive a letter in the mail?
A recent survey by Healthmine examined how people prefer to be in contact with their health plans. Of Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older, 48% preferred to communicate by phone over digital methods of communication.
Most Medicare consumers in the survey believed that the level of service is just not the same in texting or online portals. Thirty-three percent said that online portals never answer questions they have about their health plans.
On the flip side, of those under 64, 70% preferred texting, emailing, or other online communication with their health provider.
It seems that despite the preferences of patients, most health plans are going digital in their communication. Much of the reason for this is to keep documentation records on file.
Even phone calls are recorded to help better health outcomes. But with all this recording of data, there comes the risk of data breaches, as occurred in May with Molina Healthcare, who had to shut down their patient portal due to a data breach. Molina has more than 4.8 million customers in 12 states and Puerto Rico.
Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs said, “[Medical] information is more sensitive than credit card data, but it seems less protected.” When huge data breaches of medical records occur, federal regulators can fine the health insurance company under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
You tell us. Can anything replace the good old phone call or face-to-face visit? Let us know what you think.