Study: Patients believe EMRs bring accuracy to their records

By Healthcare IT News
10:55 AM
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The majority of patients and physicians have a positive perception of electronic documentation, according to a survey conducted by Sage Healthcare Division, a unit of Sage North America.  

“The adoption of electronic health records has grown in recent years as the U.S. government’s incentive plans and the benefits of these systems are realized by more and more office-based physicians,” said Betty Otter-Nickerson, president of Sage Healthcare Division. “The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than half of office-based physicians have adopted a basic EHR, while more than 10 percent have adopted a fully functional system, such as Sage Intergy EHR. The results of the study will help Sage Healthcare design solutions that maximize the benefit to physicians and their patients.”

The Sage Healthcare Insights study examines the effect of implementing an electronic health record system on both physicians and their patients. The purpose is to understand how the perceptions of physicians who use EHR systems differ or are similar to the perceptions of the patients who recall seeing their physician use the system. According to the study, patients felt more comfortable with physicians that used an EHR system, and more importantly, felt that the information contained in the medical record was more accurate when they physically saw information being entered electronically. 

“What we learned is patients like to see their verbatim information entered into the record as they said it, not as the doctor interpreted it,” added Otter-Nickerson.

Key Findings:

  • About 42 percent physicians use an electronic health record solution to document their patient care and about 1 in 3 uses an EHR during a patient encounter.
  • Overall, 62 percent of physicians and 81 percent of patients have a positive perception of documenting patient care electronically.
  • Forty-five percent of patients had a “very positive” perception of their physician or clinician documenting patient care with a computer or other electronic device.
  • More than 60 percent of physicians feel the best benefit to using EHR is the access they have to patient records in real time.
  • Physicians also believe that the ability to seamlessly share information with other doctors, pharmacies and payers are one among the most important benefits.
  • The majority of survey respondents agreed with the statement that EHR will help improve the quality of healthcare (78 percent of patients; 62 percent of physicians).
  • While both physicians and patients believe that EHR will help improve the quality of healthcare, both groups have concerns about privacy and the security of EHR (81 percent of patients; 62 percent of physicians).
  • Given their use of and exposure to the security measures used to keep electronic medical records secure, physicians using an EHR have fewer concerns about the security of records.
  • Forty-seven percent of patients recall seeing their physicians or nurse/assistant taking notes in a computer or other electronic device while only 39 percent of patients saw their physicians or their nurse/assistant taking notes directly into a computer during treatment.
  • Physicians and patients agreed on the benefits of using electronic devices to document patient care during an encounter. The most important benefits of EHR systems agreed upon by the two groups were:
  • Gives the physician access to patients’ medical records and history in real time.
  • When appropriate, helps the physician securely and seamlessly share information with other doctors, pharmacies and payers.
  • Helps the physician make good decisions about patient care, ultimately driving the quality of patient care.
  • Overall, most physicians and patients agreed that medical records stored electronically will help improve patient care. Also, physicians and other clinicians who participated in the study were quick to point out that EHR is a tool to help them perform their work more efficiently.

According to the survey, patients, on the other hand, increasingly expect that their doctor offer them access to electronic medical records and patient e-tools, and as a result, are encouraging their physicians to adopt more connected technologies such as electronic health records, said Otter-Nickerson.

“Patients who participated in the survey said they had greater confidence in providers who use electronic records. This suggests that there’s an opportunity for doctors to learn directly from their patients how to improve their practices and their patient relationships.”

The Sage Healthcare Insights study was conducted online from December 8, 2010, to December 21, 2010. The survey was sent to 7,738 physicians or other clinical users of a Sage product or service. The patient survey was sent to 18,000 healthcare consumers. Statistically, the sample size is large enough that the findings are applicable to the population.