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It’s not uncommon for primary care doctor Maria Byron to spend hours every single week sifting through emails from patients seeking her medical advice.

These messages might contain medication questions or completely new concerns patients didn’t mention during face-to-face visits. And while the University of California, San Francisco, where Byron practices, has seen volumes surge from a few hundred thousand such emails in 2016 to about two million in 2021, she and other clinicians typically haven’t been paid for answering them.

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