How Would You Like Your Biopsy News Delivered?

Maria L. Wei, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Dermatology Director, Melanoma Surveillance Clinic Multidisciplinary Melanoma Program University of California, San Francisco Staff Physician Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San FranciscoMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Maria L. Wei, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Melanoma Surveillance Clinic
Multidisciplinary Melanoma Program
University of California, San Francisco
Staff Physician
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Wei: Effective physician-patient communication is essential for optimal medical care. There are now many methods available to notify patients of their biopsy results: a clinic visit (the method traditionally preferred by patients), a telephone call, secure online patient portals to access medical charts, email and texts. In addition, there is variability from state to state in the guidelines regulating the release of biopsy results online. Until recently, some states did not allow the on-line release of biopsy results. There have been few systematic studies on patient preferences for communication of biopsy results.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Wei : The majority of patients prefer being notified by a telephone call, with the stated reason that they would like rapid notification as soon as the results are available. However in states in which online release of biopsy results has been allowed, being notified by online patient portal was second choice. Younger patients favored an electronic means of notification.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Wei: Currently, patients show a strong preference for being notified by a phone call, particularly if the results are abnormal. However, since younger patients show a preference fo electronic notification, notification by online patient portal might in the future be the preferred method.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: As exposure to online patient portals becomes ubiquitous, it may be that patients’ preferences will shift in favor of this electronic method of notification. Future studies could monitor patient preferences and address barriers to obtaining online results such as language differences and accessibility of electronic devices.

Citation:

Choudhry A, Hong J, Chong K, et al. Patients’ Preferences for Biopsy Result Notification in an Era of Electronic Messaging Methods. JAMA Dermatol. Published online April 01, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.5634.
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maria L. Wei, M.D., Ph.D. (2015). How Would You Like Your Biopsy News Delivered?