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50% of Physicians Want Better Access to Patient Data in EHR Use

A recent Surescripts survey found that half of physicians state that EHR use itself is not a guarantee that they have sufficient access to patient data.

EHR use access to patient data

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

- Healthcare organizations may need to address physicians’ EHR use and how easily they have access to patient data if a recent Surescripts survey is any indication.

Half of the 300 US physicians surveyed said they are very or extremely satisfied with their access to patient information, according to Surescripts’ Physician Perspectives on Access to Patient Data report.

Medication adherence has the largest gap, with 83 percent of physicians saying access to that type of information is a top priority but 17 percent stated they can easily retrieve the data electronically.

Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton stated that this type of research is critical in helping providers get “access to actionable patient intelligence within their EHR.” The results can help the industry refocus on areas that may need more attention.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they did not trust the information they could access about medication adherence, with half of those physicians saying they did not trust the data because it is provided by patients.

READ MORE: How EHR Use Enables Effective Responses to Public Health Crises

Medical history (29 percent), drug formulary coverage (29 percent), medication cost (29 percent), and medication history (28 percent) were the next least trusted types of medication information of which physicians have access.

“Addressing physicians’ information needs and challenges is critical in an increasingly value-driven industry,” ORC International Vice President of Healthcare Practice Dana Benini said in a statement. “The Surescripts survey is an important inside look at physicians’ real-world information access and interoperability challenges and the opportunities to solve them.”

The majority of physicians – 88 percent – also reported that patient history data is a priority, but only 30 percent said that they have easy access to that information.

Price transparency also helps providers in their prescribing decisions, the report showed. Over half – 56 percent – of respondents said price transparency is a high priority, but 11 percent said it was easy to access electronically.

READ MORE: NJ Medical Group Starts Physician-Led Health Information Exchange

Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said drug formularies was the most valued cost and payer information. Patients’ medical benefits information (74 percent), cost of similar medications (59 percent), and coupons/patient assistant programs/or similar options (44 percent) were also cited as valued cost and payer data.

One-third of respondents said they can easily determine which other care providers a patient has seen, the report found. Thirty percent of doctors also stated they have a secure, electronic option to communicate with those providers. Even so, patient history and communication with other providers is a noted essential to coordinated care, researchers said.

“Today’s physicians want to improve care quality and reduce costs for their patients,” the research team stated. “To meet those aims, they’re looking for easier access to data and stronger, faster connections to the other providers and organizations who share in their patients’ care.”

Hospitals and health systems being able to share diagnostic EHR data with one another was found to improve patient health outcomes, according to a January 2018 survey published in the American Journal of Managed Care

“Hospitals sharing diagnostic data through their EHRs with other hospitals and physicians within their system were associated with significant reductions in 30-day patient mortality scores,” wrote Deyo et al. in the report.

READ MORE: 3 Ways EHR Use, Access Boost Care Coordination Across Settings

Researchers gathered AHA survey data from 3,113 distinct hospitals and linked it to each hospital’s corresponding CMS Hospital Compare scores.

Team dynamics can impact the ability of hospitals in a system to effectively share EHR data, the researchers said. Hospitals in different systems could have different EHR systems, which may create unique difficulties with sharing data across those systems, the team added.

The January study also noted how communication difficulties between providers could impact the patient care process.

Seventy-two percent of hospitals shared radiology reports with hospitals within their system but just over one-third (36 percent) shared radiology reports with hospitals outside their system.

“If hospital sharing is limited by communication or compatibility among different EHR systems, the ability of EHRs to improve patient outcomes or access to care may be limited in the long run,” the research team wrote, adding that lagging health data exchange options could affect patient safety.

Patient mortality rates can decrease when hospitals share EHR data outside of their own system, the researchers stated. However, hospitals may not yet have the ability to effectively use EHR data from other systems, even though there are many benefits to health data exchange.

“Developing common standards when using different EHR systems to ensure that providers can share diagnostic information in ways that are easy for other providers to access and accurately interpret” is likely the best approach for increasing patient outcomes, the researchers concluded.

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