Patient, Doctor Beliefs About Technology, Health Data Access Differ

September 24, 2014 in News

Most patients believe they should be able to use technology to determine their diagnoses, undergo remote medical tests and access their electronic health records, but physicians do not always agree, according to a recent WebMD survey, MobiHealthNews reports.

Details of Survey

The survey included responses from:

  • 1,102 random patients who visited WebMD’s consumer-facing website; and
  • 1,406 clinicians who are active members of Medscape, WebMD’s provider-facing site (MobiHealthNews, 9/24).

Diagnostic Technology Findings

The survey found that 84% of patients said they should be able to use technologies to help their physicians make diagnoses, compared with 69% of physicians who said patients should use such tools to help with diagnoses.

In a follow up question, just 17% of physicians said patients should use such tools to make self-diagnoses (Pai, MobiHealthNews, 9/24). About two-thirds of nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants said that patients should be able to use technology to complete medical tests but that medical professionals should diagnose conditions (Terry/Fiore, Medscape, 9/22).

Forty percent of patients said they liked the idea of using technology to identify health concerns without visiting a physicians’ office, while just 17% of physicians said they liked the idea (Goodman, WebMD, 9/22).

Mobile Health Findings

About 64% of patients and 63% of physicians said smartphones should be used to remotely conduct blood tests when possible.

In addition, the survey found that:

  • 66% of patients and 61% of physicians said smartphones should be used to check patients’ heart rates;
  • 63% of patients and 47% of physicians said smartphones should be used to check skin problems;
  • 54% of patients and 33% of physicians said smartphones should be used to conduct ear exams; and
  • 49% of patients and 32% of physicians said smartphones should be used to conduct eye exams (Medscape, 9/22).

EHR Findings

When asked about electronic health records, 96% of both patients and physicians said that patients should be allowed to view their EHRs.

The poll also found that:

  • 89% of patients believed they have the right to view all physician notes included in their records, compared with 64% of physicians who believed patients have such a right; and
  • 11% of patients believed that doctors should be able to control which notes patients see, compared with 36% of physicians who believed so.

Meanwhile, 54% of patients and 38% of physicians believed that patients have the right to their own medical records, compared with 23% of patients and 39% of physicians who believed that physicians own patient records (MobiHealthNews, 9/24). The survey also found that medical students were more likely than physicians to believe that patients own their own medical records.

However, 42% of patients, 40% of doctors and 28% of medical students said they were hesitant to use digital technology, including EHRs, because of privacy concerns (Medscape, 9/22).

Reaction

In a statement, Medscape Editor-in-Chief and Scripps Health Chief Academic Officer Eric Topol said that while the findings “show clear differences between patients and doctors in certain areas, most noticeably around who owns medical records, the two groups are coming ever closer in their embrace of new technology in medical practice.”

Topol added, “There is a growing understanding among physicians that patients have greater access to care and cost information and that is giving them greater voice in the decision-making process” (WebMD/Medscape release, 9/22).

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