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Patients favor physicians over technology and online medical resources

Many patients acknowledge there is a place for technology in their healthcare, but the majority of them still value face-to-face interaction with their physicians above all else.

A 3,000-person survey given to residents of the U.S., U.K. and Germany by Nuance Communications, Inc. provided more evidence for patients’ acceptance of healthcare technology. Nearly 40% of respondents have referred to online medical resources — such as WebMD — prior to making a doctor’s visit. A greater percentage of patients displayed a tendency to go straight the professionals with their medical concerns, as more than two-third of respondents said they have brought a list of questions to a doctor’s visit.

“Patient engagement is more than just the buzzword of the moment…the relationship between physicians and their patients is paramount,” Nick van Terheyden, M.D., chief medical information officer at Nuance, said in the company’s release.

The survey, Healthcare From the Patient Perspective, also gauged how patients thought their physicians’ use of technology affected their care experience. More than half (58%) believe healthcare technology has had a positive effect, 39% were neutral and only 3% were convinced technology has had a negative effect. Regardless of they may feel about technology in the exam room, most patients are aware of a change in its deployment in the last five years. During that timeframe, almost 70% have noticed a change in how often technology was used by their physician.

Patients’ approval of doctors using technology in the exam room varies depending on the device in question. More than three-quarters of patients in the U.S. and U.K. are comfortable with physicians using a desktop or laptop computer during a consultation. There is a steep decline to the next most-accepted device; only 27.4% of that group would be comfortable with physicians accessing mobile devices in the same scenario. At 18.2% and 7.5%, telemedicine and image sharing through the cloud were the next two technologies patients would be most secure with doctors using.

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