August 20, 2013
The jury’s still out on whether electronic health records (EHRs) make doctors’ lives easier, but it’s undeniable that they improve care for patients. In a world of smartphones, tablets, and wireless internet, the time is ripe to engage patients in their own healthcare through the use of health information technology.
Most doctors agree that the patient benefits of EHRs make the cost worth it, for the reasons outlined below.
Patients are more engaged. Informed patients are generally happier and take better care of themselves. EHRs make it easy to keep doctors and patients on the same digital page. Once it’s easy to access relevant health information via a patient portal, patients are much more willing to get involved with their own healthcare, or that of someone they are the primary caregiver for.
An interactive patient portal drastically cuts down call volume at a practice, freeing up time for both office staff and doctors, as well as reducing patient wait times. When patients are engaged, everyone wins.
Patients trust their doctors more. With the rest of the world having gone digital over a decade ago, most patients assume that their doctors will be as well. They expect their doctors to be up to date on all the latest healthcare trends, and if they’re still using paper charts this reflects badly on the practice.
A recent study released by Aeffect and 88 Brand Partners revealed that patients are more loyal to their doctors if they use EHR technology, which is a huge plus for doctors. There are many reasons for this, among those being that patients feel they receive better care and have an easier time accessing records than patients who don’t have access to their electronic records. For some patients, a doctor’s lack of EHR is a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing a doctor.
It’s convenient. This is by far the most obvious benefit patients enjoy with EHRs. Instead of having to request a hard copy of their records everywhere they go, records are accessible through a secure, online portal. The country is making progress toward advancing health information exchange so that crucial information will be available even when a patient is away from their home state.
Not all patients are taking advantage of health IT tools, but that trend is slowly changing, especially with the number of people who own a smartphone or tablet. Further, doctors are required to foster patient engagement for meaningful use stage 2 requirements, set to begin next year.