Patient expectations for health data sharing exceed reality, study says

The survey also found that a majority of patients use a digital device and believe it would be helpful for that data to be part of their medical history.
By Jack McCarthy
07:22 AM
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Transcend Insights CMO Thomas Van Gilder, said that patients see information sharing as essential and it’s time that providers give them the tools they need to stay connected. 

Patient expectations about the power of digital health records are well ahead of the ability of healthcare providers to keep up, according to a new survey.

The report, by Transcend Insights, Humana’s population health management company, found that a vast majority of patients (97 percent) believe it is important for any health institution, regardless of type or location, to have access to their full medical history in order to deliver high-quality care.

When asked to rate factors that are most important to receiving personalized care, they listed having access to their own medical records (92 percent) and the ability for care providers to easily share and receive important information about their medical history — wherever they needed treatment (93 percent).

The survey suggests there is a significant gap between the level of information sharing that patients expect and what is possible today. True interoperability — effectively sharing medical information and communicating across many different health care information technology systems — has remained elusive, according to the survey.

“Despite advances in the use of electronic health records (EHRs), the industry continues to struggle with sharing health information and making patient data available across the healthcare system,” the survey said.

As proof, the report cites a recent interoperability study by the American Hospital Association, which shows only a quarter of all hospitals are able to functionally exchange (find, send, receive and use) clinical information with external providers. Further, a Journal of the American Medical Association study found that only 34.8 percent of specialists receive information about a patient from their referring primary care physician (PCP), even when the PCP attempts to share patient records.

When asked whether or not their doctors could easily share and access important information about their medical history – whenever or wherever they needed care — 72 percent of respondents to Transcend Insights survey said they believed that this is in fact happening. Unfortunately, due to ongoing setbacks in connecting the sprawling health care system, this type of open access to records is rare.

“As an industry, the time has come to move beyond viewing interoperability as a philosophical challenge or a problem that we’ll eventually get our arms around,” Transcend Insights Chief Medical Officer Thomas Van Gilder, MD, said in a statement. “This survey shows us that patients see strong information sharing as an essential element of high-quality care. It’s time that we live up to those expectations by giving care providers and health care systems the tools they need to stay connected around patient care.”

The survey also found that a majority of patients (64 percent) say that they use a digital device (including mobile apps) to manage their health and 71 percent believe it would be helpful for their doctor to have access to this information as part of their medical history.

Patients said they are more likely to completely trust the health care they receive from any medical professional when he or she has access to their full medical history (38 percent versus 27 percent).

A majority of patients surveyed believed that provider access to their full medical history is important to receiving high-quality care with 87 percent of respondents indicating that PCP access, in particular, is extremely or very important to receiving high-quality care.

To develop the study, Transcend Insights conducted an online survey among U.S. adults who have seen a doctor within the past year. Fieldwork was conducted by Research Now between January 20 and January 26, 2017. A total of 2,597 responses to the survey were collected. Respondents are nationally representative of U.S. Census statistics for age, gender and geographic region. 

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