Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Limited EHR access to lead patients to switch providers?

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

As eligible hospitals and professionals in the EHR Incentive Programs already know, Stage 2 Meaningful Use ups the ante on patient engagement by requiring these providers to exceed certain thresholds for patient access to health information. But why should providers care about EHR patient access?

Well, if the results of a recent Accenture survey are any indication, a lack of patient access to electronic health information could lead to patients switch to providers.

The online survey comprises feedback of more than 9,000 adult patients in nine countries, with 1,000 of these patients representing United States residents.  Here what researchers found:

• 36 percent currently have full access to their EMR;

• 41 percent would switch doctors to gain online access to their own EHR;

• 57 percent have taken ownership of their record by self-tracking their personal health information;

• 37 percent tracked their health history, 34 percent their physical activity (34 percent,) and 33 percent their health indicators (e.g., blood pressure, weight).

Much of the impetus for patient access is the direct result of meaningful use, according to Kaveh Safavi MD., JD, Managing Director at Accenture North America. “The rise of Meaningful Use mandates and a growing trend of self-care among consumers is shifting the role of an EMR from a mere clinical repository to a platform for shared decision-making among consumers and doctors,” he said in a public statement.

Just as consumers have gained more control over other aspects of their lives, they are coming to expect the same in terms of their healthcare. “Just as consumers can self-manage most other aspects of their lives, they expect to take greater ownership of their medical care, and they are willing to switch to doctors who share their values and are willing to provide access to consumer records,” add Safavi.

The results of the survey show a disconnect between patients’ and providers’ attitudes toward what this EHR patient access should resemble. Whereas an overwhelmingly majority of patients (84%) want full access to their EHR, close to one-third of physicians (36%) feel the same. The majority of providers consider limited access to the electronic record as the right thing for patients.

With Stage 2 Meaningful Use and much of the focus of this year’s National HIT Week centering on patient engagement, the next year should prove instrumental in building consensus among providers and patients about appropriate levels of access to electronic health information.

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