Patient-provider communication guidelines remain outdated

The growth of patient-provider electronic communications has advanced faster than associated guidelines, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

This study evaluated published work to develop guidelines for the updated technology in use today. Researchers, led by Joy L. Lee, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine and research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, searched Ovid MEDLINE, Embase and PubMed databases for provider-targeted guidelines for electronic communication.

Overall, 11 guidelines were identified mainly covering technical and administrative concerns rather than communication. Some security guidelines recommended by the research was already outdated for today’s technology. Researchers remain unsure of which recommendations that remain relevant are being followed.

“Our analysis revealed major weaknesses in current guidelines for electronic communication between patients and providers: the guidelines appear to be based on minimal evidence and offer little guidance on how best to use electronic tools to communicate effectively,” concluded Lee and colleagues. “Further work is needed to systematically evaluate and identify effective practices, create a framework to evaluate quality of communication, and assess the relationship between electronic communication and quality of care."