Patients would feel much more confident about their healthcare if their doctors were digitally connected, according to a new patient-experience survey.
Surescripts, a health-information network provider, commissioned Kelton Global to conduct the Connected Care and the Patient Experience study to gauge Americans’ attitudes toward healthcare providers’ use of technology for sharing medical information.
The researchers found that Americans embrace the idea of digital health records, but most find that their own doctors are not using these systems to their potential.
Most respondents (55 percent) said that when they visit their doctors, their medical history will have holes in it, with missing or incomplete information. Nearly half (49 percent) say that their doctors don’t know what prescriptions they are taking; 61 percent say doctors don’t know their allergies; 40 percent say doctors aren’t aware of existing medical conditions.
A lot of this issues could be solved with effective networks of digital healthcare records, yet it seems that paper processes are still a big part of doctors’ office visits. More than half of Americans (55 percent) say they frequently or always sign their names on paper forms and have their insurance card or ID photocopied (54 percent).
“Dangerous voids in health information sharing can easily be solved through the use of digital communications and technology. This survey proves patients take notice and are ready for a change,” said Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton. “As an industry, we need to come together to connect the nation’s healthcare system – to enhance the patient experience while improving quality and lowering the cost of care.”
Doctors who are competent using digital technologies for managing healthcare records give patients a boost of confidence, according to the study. When a doctor uses computers or tablets instead of paper during a visit, 70 percent of respondents view the doctor as organized and efficient; 40 percent perceive doctors as innovative; and 33 percent view them as competent.
When it comes to communication, patients appreciate doctors who will take the time to answer questions via email rather than only over the phone.
If they had the ability to communicate with doctors by email, 51 percent of patients said they would feel less rushed asking questions; 46 percent would feel more comfortable asking questions; and 43 percent would get in touch with their doctors more often.
“Access to health information and the ability to communicate effectively with providers is the foundation of all patient education and engagement efforts,” said Julia Hallisy, DDS, President of the Empowered Patient Coalition. “This survey validates what patient advocates have known for some time – that the public wants and needs to be more involved in all aspects of their medical care. Technology is an important tool to help health care delivery become more efficient and truly patient-centered.”