A few months ago, I shared the story of HEALTHeLINK, an HIE serving Western New York. At the time, HEALTHeLINK was announcing that it had managed to obtain 1 million patient consents to share PHI. The HIE network includes 4,600 physicians, in addition to hospitals, health plans and other providers.
This month, HEALTHeLINK has followed up with another announcement suggesting that it’s making significant progress in getting patients and physicians connected and perhaps more importantly, interested in what it can do for them. In particular, the study suggested that consumers were far more aware of the HIE’s existence, function and benefits than one might’ve assumed.
The study found that 90% of respondents said they knew their doctors use EHRs, a percentage which differed but remained high across all demographic groups study. Respondents also knew that their doctor could send and receive medical information back and forth with other healthcare providers involved in their care using EHRs.
Not only that, 51% of respondents felt that the use of EHRs by doctors and hospitals made healthcare “more safe,” though 24% said EHRs made no impact on their care and 18% said EHRs made care “less safe.” Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that electronic access is good for healthcare, and 24% answered “strongly yes” when asked whether electronic access was beneficial.
When asked whether electronic access is good for healthcare, 24% of respondents said “strongly yes” and 58% said “yes.” Things looked even more positive for the future of the HIE when patients were specifically aware of HEALTHeLINK, with 57% of this group of patients rating care as “more safe.”
Those who rated care as “more safe” using HEALTHeLINK also included respondents with a two-year degree, those who visited Dr. more than 15 times a year and those who fell into 35 to 44-year-old age bracket.(However, it is worth noting that 41% to respondents said they weren’t aware of the name HEALTHeLINK.)
The only significant downside mentioned by HEALTHeLINK users was a lack of face time, with 37% reporting that their doctor or healthcare professional was spending too much time on a laptop or computer, and another 11% saying that this was a significant problem. (Another 60% had no issue with this aspect of the electronic medical records use process.)
Despite those reservations, when asked if they were willing to cut their doctor to use the HIE to give the other providers instant access to medical records, 57 percent said “yes” and 24% said their answer was “strongly yes.”
Lest this begin to sound like a press release for HEALTHeLINK, let me stop you right there. I am in no way suggesting that these folks are doing a better overall job of running its business than those in other parts of the country. However, I do think it’s worth noting that HEALTHeLINK’s management is building awareness of its benefits more effectively than many others.
As obvious as the benefits of health information sharing may seem to folks like us, it never hurts to remind end users that they’re getting something good out of it — and if they’re not, to find out quickly and address the problem.