Good Question: Are Rochester hospitals charging a fee for messaging doctors online?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Are there fees for messaging a doctor online? It’s a practice that became popular during the pandemic and stuck around, communicating with doctors and specialists through online portals.

Answering those messages is time-consuming and now, some hospitals across the country are adding fees for using those portals. One of you wanted to know if hospitals are doing it here in Rochester.

It’s happening at hospitals nationwide, fees for communicating with doctors and specialists online. The Cleveland Clinic, for example, recently announced that it will bill patients who message doctors online.

Since the pandemic, many patients have taken advantage of the convenience of telemedicine systems to communicate with their doctors, which means doctors are spending more time answering those messages.

NBC reports that doctors at the Cleveland Clinic receive 110,000 messages every week. Anne wrote to us saying “I heard on a national report that some doctors are now charging when you MyChart them a question. You don’t know ahead of time how much the fee will be. Have you heard of this practice being done locally by URMC doctors?”

As of now, the University of Rochester Medical Center says it is not billing patients for messages on MyChart.

URMC says is considering adding fees for MyChart messaging in the future, but it has not made any decisions about it yet.

I asked URMC if it does decide to move forward with MyChart fees, would the fees fall on patients or on insurance companies? That’s one of the factors that hasn’t yet been determined.

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