When federal officials discuss their efforts to broaden electronic health record (EHR) use, they routinely cite its potential to improve care for everyone. A recent poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Michigan, suggests that the mantra applies to health care’s youngest patients as well.
According to the hospital’s National Poll on Children’s Health, roughly half of the 1,612 parents surveyed said it “would be very helpful” to use email or Web-based software to schedule appointments, complete screening forms, refill prescriptions and obtain lab results. Fewer than 10% are currently able to do so.
The poll results aren’t terribly surprising. No one likes sitting in waiting rooms, standing in pharmacy lines or listening to hold music, especially when a loved one is ill.
From a practical perspective, though, EHR use can simplify so many processes associated with pediatrics, from the purely medical — tracking immunizations, monitoring symptoms and charting growth, for example — to the educational — providing parents and caregivers with the information that will keep children healthy long into adulthood.
There’s no guarantee that federal incentives, or even penalties, will make skeptical health care providers firm believers in EHR use. Might knowing that parents will seek out physicians who use the technology to improve care provide that impetus?