Patients' willingness to pay for electronic communication with their general practitioner

Eur J Health Econ. 2007 Jun;8(2):105-10. doi: 10.1007/s10198-006-0014-5. Epub 2006 Dec 21.


Despite the common use of electronic communication in other aspects of everyday life, its use between patients and health care providers has been slow to diffuse. Possible explanations are security issues and lack of payment mechanisms. This study investigated how patients value secure electronic access to their general practitioner (GP). One hundred and ninety-nine patients were asked an open-ended willingness-to-pay (WTP) question as part of a randomised controlled trial. We compared the WTP values between two groups of respondents; one group had had the opportunity to communicate electronically with their GP for a year and the other group had not. Fifty-two percent of the total sample was willing to pay for electronic GP contact. The group of patients with access revealed a significantly lower WTP than the group without such access. Possible explanations are that the system had fewer benefits than expected, a presence of hypothetical bias or simply a preference for face-to-face encounters.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Mail / economics*
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires