Digital messages from patients to doctors spiked during the pandemic

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Intensive care unit of the university hospital in Kiel
Photo by Frank Molter/picture alliance via Getty Images

Doctors say they’re overwhelmed by the volume of digital messages they receive from patients during the pandemic, and new data backs up their experience. The number of messages increased by over 150 percent at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the levels stayed high over the course of 2020, according to an early look at data from the electronic health record company Epic.

“They want to be responsive to the patient needs,” says A Jay Holmgren, an assistant professor in the Center for Clinical Informatics and Improvement Research at the University of California San Francisco, who collected the data and posted it on Twitter this week. But there aren’t good systems in place to help doctors to manage the influx.

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