By the year 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants interoperability between disparate electronic health records systems (EHRs) to be a common capability. This would allow patient data to be shared among authorized practitioners more seamlessly. But how do patients feel about this?
According to a recent survey conducted by Software Advice, 46 percent of patients want their doctors to directly exchange the health records, and fewer (21 percent) favor in-person delivery. When asked how their medical records are shared among multiple providers, only 39 percent of patients say providers directly exchange records, while 25 percent must deliver a paper copy to the other provider themselves. The findings illustrate the challenges patients faced when trying to obtain and share their medical records between multiple providers.
“Paper records are inefficient,” he says. “[And] many times, patients cannot get their records. For example, when a patient moves from [one] state to another, he or she will rarely bring all of his or her paper records to the new state,” said Niam Yaraghi, Ph.D. and fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation.
Patients Becoming More Comfortable with State HIEs
Instead of relying for specific EHR products to hone their interoperability capabilities, some providers are now turning to third-party application to share patient records. Certain states have already established robust Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) where authorized physicians can sign up to access a Web-based application containing the electronic records of consenting patients, regardless of the EHR system used in the various participating practices.
When respondents were asked how comfortable they would be with an electronic version of their health records being immediately accessible online by any authorized health care provider in their state. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of patients feel “very” or “moderately comfortable” with this, which demonstrates that most patients are willing to embrace using HIEs. Unfortunately, nearly 3 out of 4 respondents have no clue whether their state currently operates a HIE.
Patients Express Privacy Violations Biggest Concern to Interoperability
Despite the overwhelming majority understanding the value of data interoperability, 50 percent of patients expressed concerns about privacy violations (50 percent) as what makes them uncomfortable with electronic records sharing. Concerns about potential data security breaches (44 percent) are the second most-cited reason.
For this report, Software Advice surveyed a total of 583 U.S. health consumers and interviewed experts like Jitin Asnaani, executive director for CommonWell Health Alliance and Sandra Vance, HIMSS’ senior director of interoperability initiatives.
For more information, the full report can be found here