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Survey: Patients Value Tech, But Not in Place of Physician Interaction

March 30, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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While nearly all patients are comfortable with technology in healthcare, the physician-patient relationship plays a primary role in the overall patient experience, according to a new survey from the Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance Communications.

Nuance’s survey, “Healthcare from the Patient Perspective,” included 3,000 consumer respondents across U.S., UK and Germany. The data revealed the importance of physicians establishing a personal connection with patients through eye contact, a handshake, 1:1 conversation and privacy in the exam room. Technology is seen as an enhancement, and should play a supporting role, according to respondents.

In the study, virtually all patients report they are comfortable with their physician using technology during a consultation, and 58 percent believe this technology positively impacts their overall experience especially when used collaboratively to educate or explain.

“Doctors don’t look at patients anymore. I hear that complaint all time,” Dr. Mark Michelman, M.D., vice president of medical affairs, BayCare Health System (Tampa Bay, Fla.) said in a statement that accompanied Nuance’s press release. “Computerized records and ICD-10 have meant that doctors spend more time on the computer and have less time to see more patients. This has a very negative effect on patients who want eye contact and communication.”

At the heart of the visit, patients agree on the top things physicians cannot ignore when it comes to quality medical care:

• 73 percent say “time for discussion;”

• 66 percent say “verbal communication of specific recommendations.”

What’s more, using medical scribes to alleviate the time and documentation challenges of entering data in EHRs may come at a cost. In this survey, 95 percent of patients report they are completely honest with their physician today, but concerns over privacy topped the charts. Solutions that preserve the physician-patient relationship and enable providers to increase productivity while keeping their focus and eyes on the patient are likely to support a better patient experience.

Further, according to this survey, more than a third of patients spend less than 10 minutes with their physician during an average visit. This leaves both patients and physicians tight on time—with 40 percent of patients feeling rushed during appointments. To help counter the limited time with their physicians, patients are seeking information and embracing technology outside of the doctor’s office to come to appointments prepared, according to the survey, which found that approximately 80 percent of patients feel engaged in their own health:

• 68 percent of patients bring a list of questions to each doctor’s consult;

• 39 percent have checked WebMD or another online source in advance; and

• 20 percent bring personal health data from outside monitors.

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