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An Accenture survey shows that patients embrace eHealth, but still want face time with doctors.
eHealth is an attractive option for patients seeking self-service healthcare. In fact, Accenture’s recent Connected Health Pulse Survey reveals that most (90 percent) patients surveyed want to embrace eHealth self-service options, such as access to health information, scheduling and prescription refills, but they are not willing to sacrifice personal interactions. Eight-five percent of the 1,100 US patients surveyed want the option of communicating with their doctor in person.
Most patients choose the Web for online self-service, but they are also taking advantage of other channels, such as email and mobile devices.
The survey notes geographical differences in patients’ desire for online access. The study revealed that patients who primarily live in rural areas are less likely to want their records available online. Furthermore, many patients don’t even know if they have access to eHealth self-service. To bridge this gap, physicians can do more during in-person visits to educate patients on the eHealth options available to them.
Accenture conducted the Connected Health Pulse Survey to determine the level of access and preferred channels of access to electronic healthcare-related information and services; gauge patient perceptions of EHRs, including benefits and barriers to adoption; and explore differences in patient perspectives versus physicians as well as between federal health personnel and the general population.
The online survey, revealed key findings, including:
While the majority of patients want access to eHealth self-service, an overwhelming 90 percent cite the Web as the channel of choice for accessing health information to help manage conditions. Many look to the Web for other self-service options, including:
The survey also indicated that a majority of patients want to take advantage of self-service options through other channels, such as via email and mobile devices. For example:
While patients are eager to access eHealth self-service, when asked, “Do your doctors provide you online access to the following information or services?” patients surveyed (approximately 33 percent) did not know whether services such as bill pay, electronic reminders and lab results were available to them online.
The survey indicates that while patients are interested in eHealth self-service, they still want face time with physicians. During these in-person visits, are doctors informing patients of the services that are available to patients online? According to the survey, it may not be happening.
In-person visits may offer a chance to educate patients. While the physician/patient encounter should focus on care, the doctor may seize opportunities to inform the patient of what eHealth self-service options are available to them.
Since geography influences knowledge of and desire for online self-service, communications should include messaging that is more appropriate and resonates with patients, especially those in rural areas. eHealth self-service has many potential benefits: it helps reduce costs, drive efficiency and empower patients to take an active role in their healthcare. Healthcare providers should bear in mind that while in-person will never be out of style, they can better educate patients and ultimately drive greater adoption of self-service channels.
June 19, 2012
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