ARLINGTON, Va. – September 28, 2015 – Current gaps in information sharing are making it challenging for Americans to manage their health, according to results from Surescripts’ Connected Care and the Patient Experience survey. Surescripts, the nation’s largest health information network, found that while millions of people across the country are open to using technology for a variety of key healthcare needs, the system is not yet living up to their expectations.
“Dangerous voids in health information sharing can easily be solved through the use of digital communications and technology. This survey proves patients take notice and are ready for a change,” said Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer at Surescripts. “As an industry, we need to come together to connect the nation’s healthcare system – to enhance the patient experience while improving quality and lowering the cost of care.”
Americans say doctors still walk into most appointments without critical information about their patients.
When most Americans (55 percent) visit their doctors, their medical history tends to be missing or incomplete, with nearly half of patients (49 percent) noting that their doctor is not aware of what prescriptions they are taking. Further, patients report that their doctor usually does not already know their allergies (61 percent) or existing medical conditions (40 percent), or know about recent surgeries, hospitalizations or visits with other doctors (44 percent). Four in ten Americans note that during most visits to the doctor, the office does not have their personal (40 percent) or insurance (38 percent) information on file.
The lack of electronic communication between doctors and patients places a burden on patients to connect the dots themselves. Because of this, 29 percent of Americans – close to 70 million individuals – fax or physically transport test results, X-rays, or health records from one doctor’s office to another.
Unnecessary paperwork and phone calls make Americans dread visiting the doctor more than other everyday tasks.
Half of all Americans (50 percent) agree that renewing a driver’s license would require less paperwork than seeing a new doctor for the first time. In fact, Americans are just as likely to be frustrated when filling out paperwork at a doctor’s office (57 percent) as they would be when buying a new car (54 percent). Further, many Americans would rather call customer service for their bank (34 percent), cell phone provider (27 percent), or credit card company (22 percent) than their health insurance provider.
Despite advancements in digital technology, paper is still persistent throughout healthcare. In fact, many Americans report they frequently or always sign their names on paper forms (55 percent), have their insurance card or ID photocopied or scanned (54 percent), write their personal information on paper forms (33 percent), or write details of their medical history on paper forms (28 percent).
Americans spend an average of five minutes filling out paperwork – almost as long as the six minutes typically spent verbally sharing their medical history and a third of the time they spend meeting with their doctor altogether (15 minutes). As a result, nearly one in two patients (49 percent) admit to showing up early and nearly one in three patients (28 percent) believe the doctor’s office scheduled an appointment with extra time built in to handle paperwork.
A more digitally-connected doctor would make millions of patients breathe a sigh of relief.
Americans reported that they feel doctors using computers or tablets over paper during a visit are organized (70 percent), efficient (70 percent), innovative (40 percent) and competent (33 percent). Practices that have adopted technology to replace outdated methods of administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments online, provide patients a sense of relief (68 percent), confidence (65 percent) and comfort (55 percent).
If patients were able to communicate with their doctor via email or text instead of phone only, they would become far more open with their existing doctors. In fact, 51 percent of patients would feel less rushed when asking questions, 46 percent would feel more comfortable asking questions, and 43 percent would reach out to their doctors more often.
Providers that do not take efforts to improve electronic health information sharing could lose patients to others more technically advanced, with 40 percent saying they would be more likely to recommend their doctor to others, and 36 percent saying they would be less likely to switch to a new doctor. 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).
“Patients represent one of the greatest untapped resources in health care, but they can’t carry the burden of making care decisions alone,” said Leslie Kelly Hall, Senior Vice President of Policy at Healthwise and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. “It’s clear that patients are willing and able to play a more active role in managing their care, and with improved access to technology and information sharing between doctors and patients, the entire healthcare system will benefit.”
“Access to health information and the ability to communicate effectively with providers is the foundation of all patient education and engagement efforts,” said Julia Hallisy, DDS, President of the Empowered Patient Coalition. “This survey validates what patient advocates have known for some time – that the public wants and needs to be more involved in all aspects of their medical care. Technology is an important tool to help health care delivery become more efficient and truly patient-centered.”
The survey was commissioned by Surescripts and conducted by Kelton Global from May 1-8, 2015, with participation from more than 1,000 adult Americans across the nation. The Connected Care and the Patient Experience report (#connectedpatient) is available online at www.surescripts.com/connectedpatient.