More than a third of patients spend less than 10 minutes with their physician during an average visit, according to a 3,000-person survey conducted by Nuance Communications, Inc. across the U.S., UK and Germany. This leaves both patients and physicians tight on time – with 40 percent of patients feeling rushed during appointments. Nuance’s survey, “Healthcare from the Patient Perspective,” revealed the importance of physicians establishing a personal connection with patients through eye contact, a handshake, 1:1 conversation and privacy in the exam room.
To help counter the limited time with their physicians, patients are seeking information and embracing technology outside of the doctor’s office to come to appointments prepared. Approximately 80 percent of patients feel engaged in their own health;
– 68 percent of patients bring a list of questions to each doctor’s consult;
– 39 percent have checked WebMD or another online source in advance; and
– 20 percent bring personal health data from outside monitors.
This survey demonstrates patients are comfortable with the growing role health IT is playing in their care experience when it is in a supporting role. Nuance commissioned the “Healthcare from the Patient Perspective” survey to ensure that physicians, providers and healthcare technology developers understand the patients’ perspective on physicians’ use of health IT when balanced with the Art of Medicine.
Differing Opinions on Technology in the Hands of Physicians
According to a 2013 RAND Corporation study, physicians believe technology challenges are to blame for most of their frustrations, with 43 percent feeling electronic health records (EHRs) slow them down and 36 percent reporting EHRs interfere with face-to-face care. However, in Nuance’s study, virtually all patients report they are comfortable with their physician using technology during a consultation and 58 percent believe this technology positively impacts their overall patient experience especially when used collaboratively to educate or explain.
“Doctors don’t look at patients anymore. I hear that complaint all time,” says Dr Mark Michelman, vice president of medical affairs, BayCare Health System. “Computerized records and ICD-10 have meant that doctors spend more time on the computer and have less time to see more patients. This has a very negative effect on patients who want eye contact and communication.”
At the heart of the visit, patients agree on the top things physicians cannot ignore when it comes to quality medical care:
- 73 percent say “time for discussion;”
- 66 percent say “verbal communication of specific recommendations;”
- The third-most important factor varies by region
o Patients in Germany choose privacy in the exam room, while patients in the U.S. and UK value eye contact with physicians.
The Cost of Scribes
Using medical scribes to alleviate the time and documentation challenges of entering data in EHRs may come at a cost. In this survey, 95 percent of patients report they are completely honest with their physician today, but concerns over privacy topped the charts. Solutions that preserve the physician-patient relationship and enable providers to increase productivity while keeping their focus and eyes on the patient are likely to support a better patient experience.
“Patient engagement is more than just the buzzword of the moment – it’s a key to unlocking a healthier population and fixing some of the widening cracks of the healthcare system,” said Dr. Nick van Terheyden, CMIO, Nuance. “As this survey shows, the relationship between physicians and their patients is paramount in truly achieving engagement with patients in ways that matter most to them”