The Hell With Lunch, Let’s Email!!

This is a commercial for Sutter Health.  It was sent to me by a reader who said:

Most of us physicians who have patient e-mails foisted on us do not act so chipper when receiving them.  The poor bastard in the clip couldn’t finish his lunch without being interrupted and, unlike an attorney, is NOT getting reimbursed for his time and effort.  The future of medicine…

Agreed.  This will NOT work unless you are a direct primary care doctor.  Then you do get paid monthly and actually want to add this kind of value.  In the present system, emails will burn the rest of us (those who haven’t quit or retired) out.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  11 comments for “The Hell With Lunch, Let’s Email!!

  1. J.W.
    November 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Spoke to my Sutter Physician and asked about his experience with e-mails. He spends about 1-2 hours per day answering e-mail inquiries often at lunch but also frequently after hours, adding to an already long day. His comment was that people who would not ordinarily call their Doctor for minor issues or questions do not feel that e-mailing is as great an imposition on the physician as a telephone call. Also, there is no waiting on hold that would be experienced by the patient with a telephone call and thus no inconvience on the patient’s part to ask these questions.

  2. mamadoc
    November 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Yeah, great till you get the email that says “is CPR 15 compressions to 2 breaths or 20 compressions to 4 breaths, hope to hear from you soon.” Not no, but HELL no!

    • Ken
      November 21, 2013 at 11:29 am

      I have not seen any that acute, but I have had the “I am having chest pain” which turned out to require stents. Physicians made a mistake of giving away the phone calls for free long ago, why they decided to do the same with e-mails is just an example of masochistic desires.

      • Pat
        November 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

        Damn straight.

  3. msdelta
    November 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Until “they” decide to pay us for this BS, I refuse to participate. If it takes more than 5 seconds of my time, I just post back that they will need to make an appointment to discuss further. END of story.

  4. Steven Gilles
    November 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Well, patients want it and it can reduce work.

    Scenario 1: Patient calls, leaves message with front desk, message is routed to triage, triage gets it, routes it to you – you review it, have a few more questions, route back to triage, triage feels it is better for the front desk to answer, routes it to them, 9 hours later, patient gets answer, has a few other questions, same routing game

    Scenario 2: Patient send message, I read it and send message back with my questions/answers, I get a response and send one last message. Take 10 minutes total time.

    Certainly, patients take advantage of it as noted by Jane above. So I set up clear boundaries with my patients. If I have a patient that sends me a laundry list, I simply tell them they need to see me, or I have triage deal with it. We have also been fortunate that we can bill for certain online visits and we are given a bit of time during our week as “credit” for phone and online interactions with our patients.

    So, love it or hate it, email/electronic interactions with patients are not going away and will become a cornerstone to what we do and will be a requirement of all of our jobs. Hopefully we can be clear in our expectations with patients and God willing our employers regarding the time and energy we put into electronic interactions to insure we keep our sanity, get a tiny bit of a lunch break and aren’t expected that this is “above and beyond” what we normally are doing during the day.

  5. Jane
    November 20, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I tried allowing email access once. An “entitled” high-maintenance patient seemingly had nothing to do but email me. I would respond. Within minutes she would fire off another set of questions. This game could go on all day, as long I was willing to reply. The experience soured me on emailing patients. She was getting what she wanted. I was giving her my time and expertise for free.

  6. Barry Cook, MD
    November 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Sure, sounds great ,Email. So how do you shut ’em up on email, ignore them? Not like you can excuse yourself and walk out of the room. No time will ever be your own. Emails, texting knows no bounds. A new nitemare that we “professionals” must tolerate without adequate or imagined renumeration. Although from what I’ve seen the new “professionals” are clock punchers with no problem leaving ‘walk-in” patients to be seen at days end. there, i feel better

  7. Pat
    November 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    And they thought this was good marketing… This ad really does sum up the way most customers (want to) see physicians.

  8. November 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Here is www dot medyadc dot com!

  9. JM Brown MD
    November 19, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I headed off shore for a job interview here

Comments are closed.