A study just released by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when providers are empowered with the decision of whether or not to bill for an e-visit, the number of virtual visits rises while the number of messages exchanged with patients falls. That’s not as counterintuitive as it sounds. The data show the volume of e-visits rose because overall the providers started billing for “visits” that they once gave away for free, essentially. And the number of messages went down once patients realized that they could be charged for the interaction. Researchers at UCSF Health found that before physician-initiated billing for e-visits became an option, providers billed a mean of 50.6 e-visits per week and received a mean of 19,739 patient threads and 59,648 messages weekly. Postimplementation, mean weekly e-visits billed rose to 235.7 while message threads dropped to 16,838 and messages sank to 57,925. The results could indicate that the public lacks clarity as to whether they would be charged for messaging providers, so the study shows setting expectations does change behavior.

With Billing Decisions in the Provider’s Court, e-Visits Go Up and Messages from Patients Go Down
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