No EHR? Paper records create dangerous voids in care coordination

Patients are ready for more digitally-connected doctors, according to a new survey
By Jack McCarthy
08:00 AM
Doctor holding papers

Many patients are growing increasingly impatient with the progress their doctors are making in adopting digital tools and they're exasperated by the demands placed on them to be responsible for mounds of paperwork. 

There's more at stake than just agitating your patients with paperwork, of course.

Indeed, some 30 percent of patients need to physically bring test results, X-rays, or health records from one doctor's office to another. What's more, 54 percent indicated that they frequently or always sign paper forms while 28 percent continue to write details of their medical history on paper forms.

Based on those findings in Surescripts' Connected Care and the Patient Experience report, for which researchers surveyed more than 1,000 adults, it should come as no surprise that nearly 66 percent of respondents are only somewhat confident, if at all, that they would be granted access to their own medical information within 24 hours.

"Dangerous voids in health information sharing can easily be solved through the use of digital communications and technology," Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said in a prepared statement. "Patients take notice and are ready for a change."

The dangerous void? That would be the 55 percent of survey participants who said that when they visit doctors, their medical history tends to be missing or incomplete, with approximately half of patients noting that their doctor is not aware of what prescriptions they are taking, allergies they might have, existing medical conditions, recent surgeries, hospitalizations or visits with other physicians.

"A more digitally-connected doctor would make millions of patients breathe a sigh of relief," the survey said. And it is becoming a key consideration when choosing a physician.

If evaluating two comparable doctors, more than half of patients would select a doctor that let them fill out paperwork online before a visit (51 percent), receive test results online (48 percent), store medical records electronically (46 percent), or schedule appointments online (44 percent).

"As an industry, we need to come together to connect the nation's healthcare system," Skelton added, "to enhance the patient experience while improving quality and lowering the cost of care."