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Health record availability is linked to more collaborative relationships with physicians, but many patients still lack access.
A new survey underscores patient demand for new and wider access to their medical data, but it also highlights some of the barriers to shifting how the healthcare industry has long conducted business.
Philips recently released its 2019 Future Health Index, a survey based on input from 15,000 patients and more than 3,000 healthcare professionals in 15 countries. The findings suggest that patients are highly motivated to access their healthcare data. Of patients who are unable to reach their health records, 63% said they want access.
Jeroen Tas, MBA, chief innovation and strategy officer at Philips, told Inside Digital Health™ that patients appear to no longer be satisfied with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. That’s partly because consumers are accustomed to personalizing their experiences in other industries.
“Consumers of care want multichannel experiences with rich personalized content,” he said. “[They want] experiences that are seamless and, in most cases, with instant gratification. They no longer want to wait weeks for appointments, being handed off from one medical discipline to the other with gaps in the journey and minimal engagement.”
But meeting that demand will require the healthcare industry to make a significant pivot.
The right kind of shift would likely boost patient satisfaction. Patients with access to their health data also reported higher levels of satisfaction with their healthcare.
Among survey respondents with access to their digital health record, 82% said their personal experience of care was either good, very good or excellent, versus 66% among patients without access to their records. Similarly, 80% of patients with health record access said the quality of care available to them in their country was good, very good or excellent, versus 64% of patients without access.
Patients with access to their data tend to be eager to exchange data with physicians, creating a more collaborative doctor-patient relationship, Tas said.
“An upside is that with sharing more data, we’re not only helping ourselves but also others,” he added. “It means that care providers can implement better practices gleaned from information, making diagnoses more precise and treatment more personal.”
Despite positive patient reactions, Tas said structural barriers continue to limit patients’ abilities to realize their desired health record access levels. Many patients’ health data remain locked in siloed electronic health record (EHR) systems, which have yet to yield to the emergence of advanced connectivity and interoperability capabilities.
Healthcare organizations will need to invest more capital in their digital health infrastructures, Tas said.
“Healthcare infrastructure investments have been largely in brick and mortar,” he said. “It is time to consider how we can best address the need for secure health data frameworks, similar to those used in financial services.”
Interoperability improvements will need to be a major part of this process, so systems, applications and devices can securely exchange data in a standardized way.
“Sharing information across organizations, geographic boundaries and between clinicians, labs, hospitals, pharmacies and patients, regardless of where the information entered the system, would have a profound impact on care coordination, quality and efficiency,” Tas said.
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