Does your doctor accept email? During my first encounter with cancer (in 2005) both the oncologist & haematologist were happy to accept email. It was a great relief to me as I lived in a remote location without access to medical specialty services and was able to get some questions answered without having to wait too long. The doctors usually responded within a day and often times within minutes. Not wanting to abuse the service I rarely sent email but throughout the course of my year long treatment probably sent about 8 messages. Having recently been diagnosed again (2010/11) I asked my current medical team if they were OK with accepting email but the response was that they do not reply to patients as they have concerns about identification, security and privacy. So to get any questions to the doctors I need to wait for the weekly meeting or channel concerns through the nursing staff. My background is IT so I understand the doctors concerns but I also understand that these issues have been solved a long time ago, there are countless examples in industry now, for example look at the finance industry. Existing technology could be applied to medical centres to resolve identity & privacy issues. Evidently the government is funding a study into making medical records available online. From my observation the problem is not a technical challenge but a cultural one which will take a generation (for both doctors & patients) to adopt.
Hmmmm ... I would have thought it was a question of time as much as anything. I have only seen my oncologist twice in the last year, i think!?!? It seems that if we are travelling ok we see other people and if things aren't so good then we get to see the oncologist. Course that is simply my observation from my own experience and i could be completely off track. :)
I agree it is more a cultural issue than anythng else.
I did a consumer interview for a research team looking into building new online fora for professionals and patients to share and more widely shared medical records was one of the (long term!) objectives of that project, I recall.
It amazes me that after four years of needles, out of pocket payments and waiting rooms I still have absolutely no access to my own medical records. Crazy as.
The defence of privacy is usually a front for another argument...fear, threat, loss of control, etc...ref Wikileaks!
I think it just boils down to the fact that doctors are overworked; most of them 'dont care' - let's face it - the minute we leave their office, we are forgotten, until the next time we see them, and by answering emails, it just gives them 1 more job to do (in their eyes!)in their busy day.
I live in rural vic and have found my local doc (1 , or if Ihr return trip) to be an absolute gem. If I need an appt I get in to see him immediately, if I want any results - he will give them to me over the phone or if I am concerned he will take my phone call. On the other hand, if my partner is ill, he has to wait for an appt, when ringing for results he is told he has to go into the surgery and unless it is an emergency, he is unable to speak with doc on phone. So I guess we DO have certain priviledges with cancer (oh, how lucky are we???)
@Harker - I get copies of ALL my blood tests, scan results, absolutely everything! If professionals are treating me and talking about me with other doc's - then I want to know what they are saying! It's our right as patients. You can actually access all your medical records, through the Freedom of Info act, (if you can bothered that is).
Have a good day everyone!
I agree with all the above comments
My ent/surgeon told me he would answer if I e-mailed a question.I never did but used to ring and it took a bit of hassling him to get him to ring back within a day or so.He also told me he'd check any info that I printed from the net to see if it applied to me,as long as it was not too much to go through.This was during the 2 months between diagnosis and surgery.I never did this either.This was because mine was a difficult case and it is a rare cancer and he hadn't seen it before .It was also because it took so long for tests ,consultation and debate to decide how to procede with surgery.
My husband and I spent a week in Fiji between the op and rt and he sent my ent a photo and update on my condition in an e-mail which we sent to friends and relatives to save alot of phone calls .
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.