The consumer supports Health IT

With the government set on pushing its agenda of coordinated care and health information exchange, providers that have not yet adopted EHRs are slowly slip…

The last few years have been quite tumultuous for the healthcare industry. With the government set on pushing its agenda of coordinated care and health information exchange, providers that have not yet adopted Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are slowly slipping behind the technological trend. The problem is that while most medical professionals acknowledge the usefulness of EHRs, adoption itself remains a daunting task for most. When we talk about healthcare digitization and structural transformation, we often discount the relevance of organizational cultures. Whether hospitals or independent practices, care organizations are defined by their personnel and their individualistic traits. Significant changes to operational processes often lead to a loss of identity. Hence, the concept of complete clinical automation can be quite overwhelming for a few.

While providers are still struggling with the rapidly changing environment, consumers show much optimism for health information technology. A recent research by the Optum Institute claims that consumers are well ahead of providers in their willingness and ability to be engaged with health IT. Keith Smith, a health IT consultant explains that the recent developments in mobile technology have made it easier for individuals to connect with each other and exchange information.

“Everyone today is connected either through use of personal computers or smart phones. The social networking era has changed the dynamics of communication. This is why consumers are more open to online health information exchange.”

Patient engagement also plays a significant part in the connected care structure. However, while 70% of respondents in the Optum case study claim basic Electronic Health Recordcapabilities, only 40% of the physicians admitted to having the capability to engage patients either through email or by electronic health records access. The survey that included a total of 4,270 responses from physicians, consumers and hospital executives suggests that, while physicians are aligning themselves with the technological change, consumers are ready to use technology enabled features today. Nearly 3 out of 4 (consumer) correspondents say that they are willing to go online to access their health records, while nearly 60% agreed that they want to communicate with their doctors through the use of internet.

The most notable finding was that while the younger generation was optimistic about online communication, the majority of the senior percentile of the group echoed a similar desire. Patient engagement is a vital step towards care continuity and population health control. Such measures are also likely to promote preventive care measures and information transparency.