Research in the news: New media helps emergency physicians continue care beyond the ER

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(Illustration by Millicent Wibert)

Yale researchers find a critical mass of patients who see emergency physicians use new media, including cell phones, smart phones, and other devices. Their study confirms that emergency providers can use new media to continue care — via email, text, and apps — after patients leave the ER.

To conduct the study, first author Dr. Lori A. Post and her co-authors in Yale’s Department of Emergency Medicine interviewed nearly 6,000 patients in three urban emergency departments. They also compared the data with a nationally representative survey of new media use. 

The researchers found that 85% of emergency patients own cell phones and 50% of those own smartphones, despite the greater likelihood that these patients are low income. Hispanic patients reported the highest rates of texting and smartphone ownership (79% and 56%), followed black non-Hispanics (77% and 54%), and white non-Hispanics (65% and 42%)

Given this widespread use, emergency providers can use new media to communicate with patients to answer questions, schedule appointments, or help patients adhere to complex treatment regimens, said Post. “The implications are that emergency medicine doctors can go beyond the emergency visit to impact patient’s health care in a positive sense to improve the public health,” she explained.

The study was published early online in JMIR mhealth and uhealth.

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Ziba Kashef: ziba.kashef@yale.edu, 203-436-9317