Docs, patients agree on key requirements for health IT

March 10, 2011

Chances are, you agree with your patients on key requirements for information technology (IT) to increase the quality, safety, and cost-efficiency of care, as well as core privacy protections, according to results of a national survey released by the Markle Foundation. Agreement between physicians and patients was strongest on requirements to ensure that new federal health IT incentives will be well spent.

Chances are, you agree with your patients on key requirements for information technology (IT) to increase the quality, safety, and cost-efficiency of care, as well as core privacy protections, according to results of a national survey released by the Markle Foundation. Agreement between physicians and patients was strongest on requirements to ensure that new federal health IT incentives will be well spent.

Of the doctors surveyed, 94% said their patients sometimes forget or lose track of potentially important things they are told during office visits, and 34% of the physicians said they themselves at least sometimes forget or lose track of potentially important things that their patients tell them. Among the patient group, 30% perceived that their doctors forget or lose track of potentially important information at least sometimes.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 74% of physicians said they would prefer computer-based means of sharing patient information with each other. Only 17% of doctors predominantly use such means today.

  • 47% of the doctor-respondents said they would prefer computer-based means of sharing records with their patients. Only 5% do so today.

  • 74% of physicians participating said that patients should be able to share their information electronically with their doctors and other practitioners.

  • 10% of patients reported currently having an electronic personal health record, up from 3% who reported having one in Markle’s 2008 survey.

  • About 70% of patients and 65% of the physicians said that patients should be able to download their personal health information online.

  • 70% of patients said that patients should get a written or online summary after each doctor visit, but only 36% of the physicians agreed. Only 4% of doctors say that they currently provide all their patients a summary after every visit.

  • Most patients and doctors support privacy-protective practices, such as letting people see who has accessed their records, notifying people affected by information breaches, and giving people mechanisms to exercise choice and correct information.

  • 65% of patients and 75% of doctors said that it’s important to have a policy against the government collecting personally identifiable health information for health IT or health care quality-improvement programs.

  • If there are safeguards to protect identity, however, at least 68% of the public and 75% of the doctors expressed a willingness to allow composite information to be used to detect outbreaks, bioterror attacks, and fraud, and to conduct research and quality and service improvement programs.

  • 75% of patients and 73% of physicians said it will be important to measure progress on improving health care quality and safety to ensure the public health IT investments will be well spent. Both groups (each at 69%) said it is important to have specific requirements to improve the nation’s health in areas such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and asthma.

  • 85% of patients and 36% of doctors described themselves as not very or not at all familiar with the health IT incentives program that makes subsidies available for doctors and hospitals to increase use of IT.

Knowledge Networks (KN) conducted the surveys between August 10 and 26, 2010. The general population survey of 1,582 adults aged 18 or more years used KN’s KnowledgePanel, a probability-based panel of 50,000 individuals designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The survey of 779 physicians was conducted using KN’s Physicians Consulting Network, an invitation-only list of more than 45,000 practicing physicians.