Healthcare providers and health IT product developers concern themselves with reducing the costs of healthcare product development and delivery, both for providers and patients alike. In many ways, this kind of cost-effectiveness will come about from the democratization of EHR technology.
Designing systems that anyone can use and contain shareable metrics makes it easy to track product and service quality, total patient outcome and cost of treatment while a patient is ill. This allows systems to monitor behaviors that prevent illness from advancing or perhaps occurring altogether.
At first glance, this seems like an overwhelmingly positive movement. So why are some healthcare providers against democratizing EHRs?
Can We Manage?
Many question whether the industry can manage democratized healthcare technology. However, the trend seems somewhat inevitable.
Customers are obtaining more knowledge and becoming increasingly aware of healthcare, which leads to demands for better service. Patients are used to better IT, smart phones and tablet devices where they can access the Internet and get the health information they need.
In other words, patients aren’t waiting for physicians and insurance companies to deliver their health information. They just don’t need to and probably shouldn’t, anyway.
But the first EHRs resembled the genesis of financial software, where little to no provisions were made for patients. The difference is that banking is a consumer business, so early models quickly led to sleek, user-friendly banking portals.
Still, healthcare is following suit, and while the quality of EHR patient portals ranges from doleful to suitable, we’ll reach the point where few patients will be willing to purchase health services from a provider lacking a usable online presence.
These trends mark a sort of revolution in healthcare, indicating that EHR vendors no longer overlook patients’ needs. However, patients having to transfer information to Microsoft to figure out their health status, or download apps to keep track of health patterns and illnesses hinder functionality and usefulness.
EHR vendors need to incorporate these services within their patient portals to keep up with patient-centric trends.
Why Patients Should Be More Involved
Involving patients in their own care has been a goal of the American healthcare system for years, as illustrated by the ONC.
In order to obtain Meaningful Use, patients need to be given access to health information, electronic copies of their health information (per request) and clinical summaries for office visits.
However, some providers are concerned patients will have too much control, and that the democratization of EHRs is ultimately negative. The audience for clinical reports is more technical in orientation, making for dispassionate relaying of information, clinical shorthand and candidness.
In other words, some believe patient access to this kind of information is inappropriate. Some complex content may be unnecessary for patients, which may result in too many questions for clinicians. Other patients may be purposely looking mistaken, increasing liability exposure for providers and delaying care overall.
It seems engaged patients may improve the quality of health information overall. A recent study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found the number of discrepancies in medication regimens is decreased by .05% if patients have access to their medical records.
So while four out of every five physicians believe open sharing of notes make patients worry more, this kind of open access to health information may make for more diligent, proofreading patients.
So the question isn’t whether patients should have access to the data here, but whether EHRs can be built to handle this ‘new wave’ of healthcare information norms fast enough. The goal is to integrate and share electronic health data across multiple platforms while quelling security concerns.
Do you think its better for patients to have more control over their personal health information?Tweet