A new study suggests that there may be a link between a physician’s office use of electronic health records (EHRs) and patients’ loyalty. Close to 24% of patients say they are currently using EHRs, according to the EMR Patient Impact Study, which was conducted by Aeffect Inc and 88 Brand Partners. Many of those current EHR users (67%) say that web systems for emailing physicians, filling prescriptions and making appointments are very influential when it comes to picking a physician.
The majority of patients using EHRs (82%) report being more satisfied with their quality of care, and they are overall more satisfied with access to information and clear communication from their physicians. Overall, patients who use EHRs are more satisfied with their physicians compared with those who don't use any electronic communication with their physician's office (78% versus 68%).
However, physicians also have a long way to go in getting patients who are interested in EHRs to actually use them. According to the survey, 52% of patients are very interested in using EHRs, but haven’t been encouraged to by their physician. These patients also say they are less satisfied with their physician.
“The study’s findings clearly indicate a strong link between EMR users and their confidence in the quality of healthcare they receive," says Tamara O'Shaughnessy, vice president of Aeffect Inc."There is solid evidence that the investment providers continue to make in EMR systems is likely to put adopters at a competitive advantage and yield dividends beyond the expected operational efficiencies-namely it will enhance patient loyalty and satisfaction.”
The study comes out on the heels of a report released by the Centers for Disease Control that stated 72% of physicians have adopted some sort of EHR system. Physicians who have met meaningful use standards for stage 1 of EHR implementation must start implementing stage 2 standards by 2014, which requires that 5% of patients must access information online.