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Patient Portals- What Kind of Poll was That?

"New Zealand Doctor" in my humble opinion is one of the most informative, successful and thoughtful magazines surviving into the digital era. But nonetheless, let me poke a gentle stick its way.

This week's issue features an article headed "Many GPs still turned off by prospect of patient portals." Yet reading the detail, over 80% of respondents to NZD's survey said that either they saw themselves using a portal inside 2 years, or didn't know - not exactly a sign they are "turned off."

But here's the really interesting issue to me. The survey was conducted by fax.

Remember the faithful old fax machine? I realise that some of us retain a huge affection for it, much as we do for steam engines and Model T Fords. The health sector has taken this affection to extremes, continuing to use the fax a decade or two after general commerce consigned it to the trash can in favour of email.

But despite that, if you use the fax to distribute a questionnaire about people's uptake of Web-based services, aren't you inviting a skewed response including a disproportionate number of technological slow adopters?

Given that likely skew, I think the result of the survey is much more good news than bad. I hope so - provided the numerous details and issues are managed properly I can see nothing but good coming from Portals.

And just by the way - by definition these are patient portals, not GP portals. So I hope the people who are the intended beneficiaries have their views given due weight.

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