Last week we reported on two surveys showing how doctors have very different views on the benefits of electronic health records (EHR). Now, a third survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Xerox suggests that patient uncertainty about the benefits of EHRs may further complicate the situation.
Researchers asked more than 2,000 patients about their views of EHRs. The results showed that only 26 percent said they believe patient records should be electronic. Only 40 percent said they feel EHRs will deliver better care, while 85 percent reported having concerns about digital documents.
The findings raise significant red flags related to EHR implementation. Experts have long held that if the meaningful use incentives don’t compel physicians to adopt EHRs, patient expectations will. The thinking is that most people now buy movie tickets from their laptops, manage bank accounts from their smartphones, and communicate with other services providers online. Why should they expect to manage their health care any differently? However, the new findings suggest that there currently is little demand from patients for this kind of electronic functionality when it comes to their health care.
In a statement announcing the findings, Chad Harris, the group president of Xerox Healthcare Provider Solutions, said the results of the survey indicate that doctors need to make stronger efforts to explain to patients the benefits of EHR systems. However, if physicians aren’t completely sure that the technology actually does improve patient care, as was suggested in a previous survey, they are unlikely to effectively communicate to patients why EHRs should be used.
In order to achieve full adoption of EHRs, both physicians and patients will have to trust the technology. But what we’re seeing now appears to indicate that there is a long way to go before the majority of doctors and patients do feel completely comfortable with electronic documentation. Ultimately, this may be one of the most important factors that drives or holds back EHR adoption.