The ongoing consumerization of healthcare is a growing topic in the industry, and a recent national interoperability survey by Humana’s Transcend Insights found that patients believe that a healthcare provider having access to their full medical history is a critical factor to receiving high quality care. However, the survey also indicates that there are significant gaps between patients’ expectations of a high quality healthcare experience and what the health care system is capable of delivering.
The survey by Transcend Insights, a Campbell, Calif.-based population health management company, specifically focused on patients’ expectations for medical information sharing and personalized healthcare and polled about 2,600 adult patients. The study also examined whether patients are aware of the gaps that exist in medical information sharing.
According to data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), as of May 2016, only 26 percent of hospitals are able to functionally exchange clinical information (find, send, receive and use exchanged clinical information) with external health care providers.
The Humana Transcend Insights survey asked patients about how much medical information sharing they believe is taking place in the backdrop of their healthcare. Surprisingly, a large number of patients (72 percent) believed that their current care providers are able to easily share and access their longitudinal health record.
According to the survey, a vast majority of patients (97 percent) believe it is important for any health institution, regardless of type or location, to have access to their full medical history in order to receive high-quality care.
Patients were also asked to rate factors that are most important to receiving personalized care. Top priorities for patients included having access to their own medical records (92 percent) and the ability for care providers to easily share and receive important information about their medical history—wherever they needed treatment (93 percent). Patients also cited care that address mental and physical health (90 percent).
Are these demands being met? Industry studies examining the current state of health information sharing among healthcare providers suggests otherwise and indicates that there is a significant gap between the level of information sharing that patients expect and what is possible today. As noted above, ONC data indicates that only about a quarter of hospitals could conduct all four domains (find, send, receive and use or integrate data) that comprises interoperability. Additionally, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only 34.8 percent of specialists receive information about a patient from their referring primary care physician (PCP), even when the PCP attempts to share patient records. Many healthcare providers report that information sharing between healthcare organizations is a continuing challenge for the industry.
The survey also found that more than half of patients believe their care providers have a very good understanding of their full medical history. And, 51 percent of patients said that a care provider who is able to access their full medical history and share it with other medical professionals—regardless of location—would make them consider switching care providers for that capability alone.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- A majority of patients (64 percent) say that they use a digital device (including mobile apps) to manage their health and 71 percent believe it would be helpful for their doctor to have access to this information as part of their medical history.
- Patients trust in the care they receive from a care provider increases when that provider has access to their full medical history (38 percent versus 27 percent).
- A majority of patients surveyed believed that provider access to their full medical history is important to receiving high-quality care with 87 percent of respondents indicating that PCP access, in particular, is extremely or very important to receiving high-quality care.
“As an industry, the time has come to move beyond viewing interoperability as a philosophical challenge or a problem that we’ll eventually get our arms around,” Thomas J. Van Gilder, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president of informatics and analytics at Transcend Insights, said in a statement. “This survey shows us that patients see strong information sharing as an essential element of high-quality care. It’s time that we live up to those expectations by giving care providers and health care systems the tools they need to stay connected around patient care.”
Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.