Forty-five percent of patients said the EHR has improved care quality and 44 percent said it has boosted patient-provider communication.
Patients say the EHR improves their care quality and patient-provider communications, but concerns about security and data accuracy remain, according to a data note from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The note, which included survey responses from just under 2,000 patients, outlined the progression of patient perceptions of EHRs since 2009. Although EHRs have been in existence for longer than that, 2009 marks their widespread adoption as providers sought to meet the demands of the EHR Incentive Programs and HITECH Act.
Far more doctors are using EHRs now, and patients have taken note. In 2009, only 46 percent of patients said their clinician used a computer record to enter patient data. That number has since nearly doubled, with 88 percent of patients saying their clinicians use the EHR.
Patient perceptions of the tool have also improved. In 2009, only 67 percent of patients said the technology would improve care and only 22 percent said the EHR would lower costs. Fifty-nine percent of patients had security concerns.
Today’s healthcare consumers view EHRs in a far more positive light, the survey revealed. Forty-five percent of patients said EHRs have improved care quality and 44 percent said the tool has improved patient-provider communication.
Forty-seven percent of respondents said care quality and provider communication remained the same after their doctors had adopted the EHR. Six percent said EHRs made care quality worse while 7 percent said the tool detracted from provider communication.
These perceptions varied according to age, the survey added. While 57 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 said care quality was better because of EHRs, only about 43 percent of adults older than that could say the same. Adults over age 50 were also more likely to say that EHRs made care quality worse.
Similar results emerged when looking at communication quality. Forty-nine percent of adults ages 18 to 29 said EHRs improved patient-provider communication. Only 43 percent of those over age 50 said the same, while up to 10 percent of older adults said EHRs detracted from patient-provider communication.
Patient concerns about data privacy persisted, however.
Fifty-four percent of patients said they are very or somewhat concerned that an unauthorized individual will access their medical records via the EHR. This is only a slight decrease from the 60 percent of patients who said the same just three years ago.
Again, there are age disparities at play. Only 42 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 said they are somewhat or very concerned about unauthorized patient data access, while over half of those over the age of 50 said they carry those concerns.
Patients are also concerned that the medical data in their EHRs is not accurate. Fifty-five percent of all respondents said they are somewhat or very concerned that the EHR contains inaccurate medical information that could negatively impact care quality. Only 22 percent of respondents are not concerned at all.
These concerns are not exactly unwarranted, the survey continued. Twenty-one percent of those whose doctors use an EHR said they or a family member have detected an error in their medical record.
Sixty-seven percent of patients said their doctor did not even notice the error, while only 21 percent said their doctor did notice the error. This statistic highlights the importance of granting patient data access. Patients who can view their medical records, and especially those who can flag issues, are equipped to help drive data integrity.
These results come as clinicians continue to struggle with their EHRs. The EHR is a significant driver of physician burnout, as clinicians work to navigate an increasingly complex technology while meeting the other demands of deliver quality clinical care.
Patients and providers may not be seeing eye to eye on the effects of the EHR, especially as the tool impacts the patient experience. Specifically, clinicians have asserted that the EHR takes away from quality patient-provider communications.
A 2018 survey from Stanford Medicine revealed that the EHR serves as a distraction from building relationships with patients. Sixty-two percent of the care encounter is spent documenting in the EHR, the survey revealed, taking away precious time clinicians could spend talking to their patients.
Overall, 69 percent of clinician respondents said the EHR had not strengthened their patient relationships.
Healthcare professionals are still working to understand how health technology and EHRs impact the overall patient experience. While patients and providers may perceive these technologies differently, it may be beneficial to continuously emphasize patient relationships while using technology during the care encounter.
Date: March 22, 2019