- Many eligible providers view patient engagement requirements as a significant challenge in meeting Stage 2 Meaningful Use, but they run the risk of pushing away patients if they fail to meet consumer patient engagement expectations. This is one takeaway from a recent nationwide survey of more than 400 adults conducted by TechnologyAdvice.
Close to two-thirds of respondents (60.6%) reported that the availability of digital services play an important role when choosing a physician, but more than one-third (37.4%) reported indicated that their physicians had not offered them one of the six services included in the study:
- Follow-up messages
- Health resources/educational material
- Online test results or diagnoses
- Secure online messaging
- Online appointment scheduling
- Online bill pay
Although 68.6 percent of respondents value physician follow-up after an appointment (not regarding payment), only 30 percent indicated that this actually occurred. And despite only 18.2 percent of all patients wanting digital access to educational materials or additional health resources, this was the second most-commonly available service (29.3).
“Primary care physicians are reporting some of the highest rates of EHR adoption to comply with government regulations and to receive incentives from Meaningful Use, but a significantly lower number of patients claim to have access to these patient portal services,” TechnologyAdvice Managing Editor and study author Cameron Graham said in a public statement.
Of all the digital services mentioned, online test results or diagnosis was the most popular:
- Online test results or diagnoses (32.8%)
- Online appointment scheduling (29.3%)
- Online bill pay (25.1%)
- Secure messaging outside of office hours (22.7%)
- Smartphone app for scheduling (19.5%)
- Health resources/educational material (18.2%)
According to Graham, both providers and patients could share responsibility for a lack of patient engagement.
“The issue here may not be implementation of digital services, but instead a lack of patient awareness,” he explained. “If physicians are offering these in-demand digital services, a more proactive approach to promoting them is needed and could create an advantage in attracting and retaining patients.”
Unsurprisingly, respondent age had a role to play in determining which types of digital services were a high priority or highly valued. Whereas 13.5 percent of respondents over 65 wanted to be able to schedule appointments online, more than three times that number of respondents 25–34 (41.2%) reported wanting that ability.
Additionally, the latter demographic was half as likely to report not wanting any of the listed services as compared to the former: 23.5 percent to 44.2 percent, respectively. Even younger respondents — between 18 and 24 years old — placed greater importance on smartphone applications than their peers, with nearly half (48.4%) wishing their physicians offered an app.