Is Your Medical Practice Behind the Times and Losing Patients?

Failure to implement EHR and patient portal software could be pushing patients away.

old computerAccording to a survey conducted by consulting firm Accenture, more than 80 percent of patients want access to their medical records – and about 75 percent say that features such as online appointment scheduling and prescription refill requests are also important. Patients, it seems, are increasingly interested in taking a more active role in their health, and they want tools that make doing so a lot easier.

Currently, only 36 percent of people report having full access to their health records. Though this stat is concerning in and of itself, what should be even more alarming to physicians is the fact that 40 percent of patients say they would switch doctors to gain access to an electronic health record system. Patients want EHR and patient portal access not only to take advantage of convenient features like scheduling and online bill pay, but to manage their medical information and track things like health indicators, medications and vitals.

“Just as consumers can self-manage most other aspects of their lives, they expect to take greater ownership of their medical care,” said Kaveh Safavi M.D., J.D., managing director of Accenture’s North America health business, in a press release. “They are willing to switch to doctors who share their values and are willing to provide access to consumer records.”

Stats, of course, vary by age group, with younger, tech savvy adults between the ages of 18 and 24 placing greater importance on online scheduling and email communication with their physicians. Meanwhile, adults 55 and older care more about being able to view their health records online than performing automated tasks. Either way, physician practices that fail to implement a patient portal risk losing patients to more technologically advanced healthcare organizations with successful patient engagement initiatives.

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