Healthcare solutions that streamline operations and make life substantially easier for physicians are rapidly becoming more prevalent in the sector. However, these advances will all come to nothing if the patients are unable to recognize how EHRs improve their care. The medical industry is recognizing this and patients are responding. According to a recent study from the National Partnership for Women and Families, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of EHRs and are beginning to trust the new health IT tools.
Most of the respondents to the survey said they are beginning to accept that EHRs and other similar solutions will improve how doctors manage their care, even though they are still somewhat concerned about data privacy. While this worry is valid, respondents clearly see the potential gains of EHRs as greater than the risks.
The key difference is that the respondents are seeing their physicians use EHR systems. The study found that respondents whose doctors actually use EHR solutions are more positive about the technology’s potential. Furthermore, even those whose physicians are still using paper records tend to see the advantages of EHRs. This has become so prevalent that approximately 75 percent of patients whose doctors depend on paper say their care would likely be improved if their physician turned to an EHR.
Christine Bechtel, vice president at the National Partnership, explained that the growing consumer support of EHRs is critical, as patients will likely drive the technology forward and ensure continued political efforts to drive innovation. “For health IT to deliver on its promise, consumers must support it. If they don’t, we will see political pressure for repeal and the promise will be squandered. What we found is encouraging, but there are still potential landmines ahead,” said Bechtel.
Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health IT at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, echoed this sentiment, pointing out that patients are often put on the back burner when technology becomes the focus, even though the innovation is designed to improve the patient experience. For medical providers working to optimize EHRs for patient needs, healthcare system integration is emerging as a key technology. Integration allows organizations to connect their EHR platforms and automate data updates and other similar processes. This keeps all physicians within the care spectrum up to date and ready to meet the needs of patients.