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Email advice from doctors: Convenient care at no cost?

When kids get sick with a minor illness or injury after-hours, parents can be left in a tough spot. They need to determine if their child’s illness can be treated at home, if their child can go to school or day care the next day, and if the illness is severe enough to reach out to a doctor on call. With the amount of information available online, some parents might type their child’s symptoms into a search engine and try to find some quick advice to help them determine what to do.

But what if parents could find sound medical advice online – not by sorting through the hundreds of websites on children’s health, but by sending an email to their child’s doctor? In our most recent National Poll on Children’s Health Report, we asked parents if they would email their children’s doctors for advice if that service were available. We also asked how much it costs them to see their child’s doctor in person and how much they think it should cost for an email consultation.

Overall, 77% of parents say they would be likely to email their children’s doctors for advice about a minor illness or injury. Almost half of the parents in this poll say an email consultation should be available free of charge. Read the full report - Email consultation: co-pay or no-pay?

Infographic: What is a reasonable fee for an email consultation with a doctor?

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Although many parents would appreciate the convenience of an email consult, there is less support for paying for this service. In this short video, NPCH Associate Director Sarah Clark discusses these results and their implications:

Have you ever needed medical advice after-hours and emailed your child’s doctor? Would you send a doctor an email if they were open to email communication? Let us know what you think!