Debating merits of ED discharge info given via Internet

August 1, 2012

A survey of 509 parents of children brought to the emergency department of a large, urban children's hospital suggests that the answer to this question is yes.

A survey of 509 parents of children brought to the emergency department (ED) of a large, urban children's hospital suggests that the answer to this question is yes.

The study showed that providing discharge information electronically is feasible because the vast majority of respondents-English-speaking caregivers of largely urban, minority, and disadvantaged children-had Internet access and liked the idea of receiving electronic communication from the ED related to their child's care.

Nearly 99% of respondents reported having Internet access, about two-thirds of whom had online access at home.

About 93% of respondents expressed an overall interest in receiving electronic communication from the ED, and about 42% preferred paper-based documentation in addition to electronic communication. About half preferred electronic communication only. Most (82%) participants wanted to be contacted by e-mail (96% of those with Internet access had an e-mail address), whereas 14% preferred text messages.

Investigators also asked participants to choose specific types of electronic communications they wished to receive from the ED. Of those with Internet access, more than three-quarters were interested in an ED newsletter, and almost as many desired specific educational material about illnesses (Saidinejad M, et al. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012;28[6]:553-557).

Commentary

I am not sure how communication with our patients will change in the next 10 years, but it will change. Using all forms of electronic communication may offer exciting advances in educating patients, enhancing and tracking their medication adherence, promoting and ensuring follow-up, and more. I have learned to text (but with weak use of abbreviations). It may even be time to learn to tweet.
-Michael Burke, MD