Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting Patients and Physicians to use EMR's & PHRs

Physicians are missing an amazing opportunity to help ensure that their patients maintain their treatment regimens. That opportunity, of course, is online. Their patients are online; many of these patients want their doctors online; but their doctors, for various reasons, continue to resist.

According to a story in FiercehealthIT, meaningful cyberspace connections aren't happening between patient and physician, regardless of the Web tool – patient portal or personal health record.

Patient portals, according to the article, are primarily used administratively, paying bills and requesting appointments. As for personal health records-–few people have them--but a survey by the California HealthCare Foundation found that more than half of those queried said they’d like a PHR provided by their doctor. Which means they want real data in their files. Which means they’d need to get it from an electronic medical record ….

A report from the business technology consultant CSC says that’s not likely to happen, because EMRs are “the least prevalent” sources of data available today.

Writes FiercehealthIT: “The common denominator between the situation with patient portals and PHRs is that most doctors and hospitals still are not making much clinical data available to patients."

A Health Affairs study might add some insight. In a national survey of physicians conducted in 2008 and 2009, 64% said they hadn’t used a patient’s electronic personal health record. The reasons: patients’ privacy concerns, data accuracy and liability issues, and lack of payment for reviewing or using the records.

Legitimate concerns, but concerns that should be worked out. These records, if maintained accurately, could lead to better health–-at least that’s what the California HealthCare Foundation found. Physicians would have more holistic pictures of their patients.

Can we all agree that would make sense?

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