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Study: physicians, patients share health IT beliefs

February 10, 2011

Many physicians are implementing electronic health records software, either because they believe the technology will boost the quality of care and efficiency at their medical practices or they are hoping to take advantage of government incentives paid to healthcare providers who demonstrate meaningful use of EHR.

Whatever the reason, digital health records are becoming increasingly prevalent.

And physicians can now breathe a sigh of relief, as a new study shows that doctors and patients are on the same page when it comes to health information technology.

According to new research by the Markle Foundation, both physicians and patients believe that several key elements are necessary in EHR adoption, such as the increase of care quality, cost-efficiency, safety and privacy protections.

“Doctors and patients agree on the importance of putting accurate information in their hands to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care,” said Zoe Baird, president of Markle.

A study like this one, titled the Markle Survey of Health in a Networked Life, has never been done before.

Markle is a private, not-for-profit philanthropy organization that works to promote the development of communications in industries that serve the public. In the healthcare industry, it hopes to advance health IT through encouraging innovation. The group also aims to improve best practices when it comes to privacy protection and cost-effectiveness.

The study found that the top concern shared by both physicians and patients was privacy. Four in five survey respondents said that privacy protections in health IT and EHR was incredibly important.

Agreement was also seen when it came to how federal incentive payments should be spent. Approximately 80 percent of both patients and doctors agree that hospitals and doctors who receive meaningful use incentives from the government should be required to share information to better coordinate care, reduce medical errors and cut unnecessary costs.

According to Neil Versel, an editor for Fierce EMR, physicians must continue to educate patients and the general public about the benefits and drawbacks of digital health records because some consumers are still in the dark about what these innovations really mean for their healthcare experiences.

“Only tiny percentages of consumers said they used or even had access to various EMR functions, including electronic delivery of test results, email reminders for follow-up care and online appointment scheduling,” Versel explained.

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