Consumers want health tech to connect but say docs don't deliver

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Patients want online access to medical records, prescriptions and test results, and want to talk to their doctor using modern forms of communication, according to a recent survey from market research firm Harris Interactive. But physicians aren't meeting their tech-savvy patients' expectations.

For example, 85 percent of respondents said they wanted to communicate with their physician by phone or email and more than 50 percent wanted to schedule appointments  and pay bills online. Just more than 10 percent report their physicians offer these services.

And although 65 percent of the 2,311 surveyed adults said access to personal health information is "very important" or "important", only 17 percent said their physicians actually offer it.

The report noted that 62 percent of patients also would like access to online cost estimators for services. Only 6 percent of respondents, however, said their physicians offered that feature.

Patients' desire to engage with their health records and providers via online and mobile technology was a major theme of last week's National Health IT Week. In a Government Health IT post, Carolyn Clancy, M.D., director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Technology (AHRQ), cited patient engagement as an overriding core principle of high quality, patient-centered care.

Clancy gave examples of AHRQ-funded work, including the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes project, which has opened telemedicine clinics for patients with Hepatitis C and other conditions. She also mentioned the Madison, Wisc.-based Active Aging Research Center, which seeks to keep elderly adults healthy by developing an integrated health IT system for seniors and their caregivers.

The Harris survey suggests that government officials who are pushing for more patient engagement in health IT may want to focus their efforts on convincing physicians it's the right thing to do. 

In an exclusive interview with FierceHealthIT published today, Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based eHealth Initiative, said consumers might be the driving force in helping providers figure out how to analyze and share health IT data in a meaningful way.

Patients "have all of this information available in every other facet of their lives, and they're starting to expect the same level of convenience with healthcare," she says.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- read the Government Health IT post

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