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Most U.S. Doctors Believe Patients Should Update EHR, but Not Have Full Access to It

March 6, 2013
by John DeGaspari
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Many doctors surveyed believe that patient access to their records is crucial to effective care

An Accenture survey shows that most U.S. doctors surveyed (82 percent) want patients to actively participate in their own healthcare by updating their electronic health records. However, only a third of physicians (31 percent) believe a patient should have full access to his or her own record, 65 percent believe patients should have limited access and 4 percent say they should have no access. The findings were consistent among 3,700 doctors surveyed by Accenture in eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States.

While nearly half of U.S. doctors (47 percent) surveyed believe patients should not be able to update their lab test results, the vast majority believe patients should be able to update some or all of the standard information in their health records, including demographics (95 percent), family medical history (88 percent), medications (87 percent) and allergies (85 percent). And, the majority of doctors (81 percent) believe patients should even be able to add such clinical updates to their records as new symptoms or self-measured metrics, including blood pressure and glucose levels.

“Many physicians believe that patients should take an active role in managing their own health information, because it fosters personal responsibility and ownership and enables both the patient and doctor to track progress outside scheduled appointments,” said Mark Knickrehm, global managing director of Accenture Health. “Several U.S. health systems have proven that the benefits outweigh the risks in allowing patients open access to their health records, and we expect this trend to continue.” In fact, nearly half of doctors surveyed (49 percent) believe that giving patients access to their records is crucial to providing effective care. But, only 21 percent of doctors surveyed currently allow patients to have online access to their medical summary or patient chart, the most basic form of a patient’s record.

More than half of doctors surveyed (53 percent) believe that the introduction of electronic health records has improved the quality of patient care, and the overwhelming majority (84 percent) say they are somewhat or strongly committed to promoting electronic records in their clinical practice. Most (77 percent) believe the right investments in adopting electronic records are being made and 83 percent believe they will become integral to effective patient care in the next two years.

On behalf of Accenture, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of 3,700 physicians across eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States. The survey included 500 doctors per country (200 from Singapore) and assessed the physicians’ adoption, utilization and attitudes toward healthcare IT.