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Consumers Hungry For Online Health Data Access

Posted on September 24, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

We may be at a major tipping point, folks. It seems that consumers are becoming eager to interact with both their doctors and their health data online, after years of fear and disinterest.  In fact, it seems that doctors  may be lagging behind.

A new survey from Optum Institute, a part of health insurer UnitedHealth’s Optum division, took a look at attitudes across several major stakeholder groups, including 1,000 physicians, 2,870 U.S. adults and 400 U.S. executives.

Optum found that three out of four patients were interested in accessing their health records online through EMRs, and more th an 60 percent wanted to connect with doctors via e-mail or other Internet vehicles.

And that’s not all. According a summary of the study in MedCityNews:

  • 76 percent of patients are willing to go online to view test results
  • 65 percent want appointment reminders via email
  • 62 percent of patients want to communicate online with their primary care physician

Meanwhile, physicians don’t seem to be keeping up. Only 40 percent of physicians said they had the ability to allow patient EMR access or communicate securely via the Internet.

Why such a gap? Apparently, many of the doctors Optum surveyed have only basic EMRs in place which don’t support patient data access or communication.  For example, only 46 percent of physicians’ EMRs offer patient-specific information to help them make decisions and manage their health.

It’s hard to tell from a survey like this whether patients merely like the idea of greater connectivity, or are ready to insist that their doctors get on board.  So I wouldn’t go out on a limb at this point and suggest that doctors will lose patients if they don’t get their EMRs souped up quickly.

This does suggest, however, that when physicians make patient data access easier and begin to communicate online, they’ll certainly make some new fans.

EHR Adoption to Potentially Reach 80 Percent by 2016

Posted on June 13, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Meaningful Use incentives and cloud computing are two factors that are helping EHR become more widespread across the country. According to a new IDC MarketScape report, EHR will be adopted in more than 80 percent of health care organizations by 2016. In 2009, only 25% of health organizations had implemented EHR into their practices.

Because smart phones and tablets are becoming more and more prevalent in the health care scene, this is thought to be a driving force in the increase in EHR throughout the country.

The IDC report examined 11 EMR/EHR products in the United States. Athenahealth and eClinical works were recognized for their pricing modles, while Optum was found to have excellent collaboration with a health insurer.

However, even though this growth is predicted, adoption in small practices isn’t growing very fast. Of the companies examined, the companies that was most popular among small practices were AllScripts and eClinicalWorks, though Cerner, GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare Information Systems also appeal to these small practices. Although the incentive program is supposed to aid in adoption EHR, Judy Hanover, the research director at IDC Health Insights, believes that small practices will not benefit long term if only the meaningful use guidelines are being met.

This seems like a relatively small EHR market study with plenty of EHR vendor bias. However, it’s one more data point to consider when you look at the future of the EHR market. I personally don’t believe we’ll be anywhere near 80% EHR adoption by 2016, but I’d love to be proved wrong.