New Study Finds the More Patients Use EHR Systems, the More Engaged They Became
As more health care practitioners begin implementing electronic health record systems (EHRs), a new study finds that more and more patients are embracing health IT, which in turn is boosting levels of patient engagement.
In 2013, about 78% of office-based physicians used EHR systems, an 18% increase from 2001. As a result — according to a new study from the National Partnership for Women and Families — it seems that more than four of five patients (86%) with online access to their health records used the EHR system at least once, and more than half (55%) accessed the system three or more times.
“This is powerful evidence that access leads to action. Online access can be a retention tool for providers and hospitals,” said Lana Moriarty, the director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s office of consumer eHealth.
The new report, titled “Engaging Patients and Families: How Consumers Value and Use Health IT,” is a followup report on the organization’s 2011 national survey assessing the views of consumers towards health IT. It repeated the questions in the 2011 baseline survey, which allowed it to provide unique data on trends and progress in consumer attitudes during the three year period between 2011 and 2014.
The aim of this new report is to help the public, policymakers, and stakeholders assess and comprehend the expectation consumers have in regards to EHR systems.
“To date, the public discourse on health IT has largely focused on the views of doctors, hospitals and vendors,” said Debra L. Ness, National Partnership president. “It is crucial to hear what patients have to say about how they experience EHRs and health IT as they receive care and manage their health—and that’s the focus of [the study].”
The study also looked at the functionality consumers wanted from health IT. Most people want their EHR system to have features like the ability to email providers, review treatment plans, doctors’ notes and test results, schedule appointments, and submit medication refill requests.
Most interestingly, though, the study found that the more people access their EHR software, the more motivated they become to improve their health. In fact, 71% of those who use their EHR system more than thrice a year report feeling motivated to better their health, compared to the 39% of those who access EHR software less often.
“As the National Partnership’s new data show, more consumers are accessing, sharing and using their health information, underlining the importance of interoperability of health data and systems,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT. “We are focusing our efforts in these areas to empower individuals to address not only gaps in information exchange and interoperability, but also enable them to take steps to improve their health and better manage their health needs.”
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