Survey finds patients prefer more digital healthcare

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Patients are aware of the gaps in information sharing that make it challenging for them to manage their health, according to results from Surescripts’  Connected Care and the Patient Experience survey.

“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 Tom Skelton, Surescripts CEO. “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.”

Most Americans (55 percent) find their medical history is missing or incomplete when they visit their doctor. Nearly half of patients (49 percent) said their doctor is not aware of what prescriptions they are taking and that their doctor usually does not already know their allergies (61 percent) or existing medical conditions (40 percent), or know about recent surgeries, hospitalizations or visits with other doctors (44 percent). Forty percent said that during most visits to the doctor, the office does not have their personal (40 percent) or insurance (38 percent) information on file.

The lack of electronic communication between doctors and patients puts the burden on patients--29 percent said they have faxed or physically transported test results, x-rays, or health records from one doctor’s office to another.

Half of all Americans (50 percent) agree that renewing a driver’s license would require less paperwork than seeing a new doctor for the first time. People said they would rather call customer service for their bank (34 percent), cell phone provider (27 percent) or credit card company (22 percent) than their health insurance provider.

The survey indicated that paper is persistent throughout healthcare. Fifty-five percent said they frequently or always sign their names on paper forms, 54 percent have their insurance card or ID photocopied or scanned, 33 percent write their personal information on paper forms (33 percent), or write details of their medical history on paper forms (28 percent). 

Americans spend an average of five minutes filling out paperwork which is almost as long as the six minutes typically spent verbally sharing their medical history and a third of the time they spend meeting with their doctor altogether (15 minutes). As a result, 49 percent admit to showing up early and 28 percent believe the doctor’s office scheduled an appointment with extra time built in to handle paperwork.

Americans reported that they feel doctors using computers or tablets over paper during a visit are organized (70 percent), efficient (70 percent), innovative (40 percent) and competent (33 percent). Practices that have adopted technology to replace outdated methods of administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments online, provide patients a sense of relief (68 percent), confidence (65 percent) and comfort (55 percent).

If patients were able to communicate with their doctor via email or text instead of phone only, they would become far more open with their existing doctors. In fact, 51 percent of patients would feel less rushed when asking questions, 46 percent would feel more comfortable asking questions, and 43 percent would reach out to their doctors more often.

Providers that do not take efforts to improve electronic health information sharing could lose patients to others more technically advanced, with 40 percent saying they would be more likely to recommend their doctor to others, and 36 percent saying they would be less likely to switch to a new doctor. If evaluating two comparable doctors, more than half of patients would select a doctor that let them fill out paperwork online before a visit (51 percent), receive test results online (48 percent), store medical records electronically (46 percent) or schedule appointments online (44 percent).

“Patients represent one of the greatest untapped resources in healthcare, but they can’t carry the burden of making care decisions alone,” said Leslie Kelly Hall, senior vice president of policy at Healthwise and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, in a release. “It’s clear that patients are willing and able to play a more active role in managing their care, and with improved access to technology and information sharing between doctors and patients, the entire healthcare system will benefit.”