Patients Warming Up To Their Doctors’ EHRs

Though many doctors may still loathe EHRs, patients have gotten more interested in and happy that their doctor has one. This, at least, is what recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests.

In a recent data note, the Kaiser Family Foundation shared a batch of statistics drawn from the January 2019 KFF Health Tracking Poll. The data was chosen to offer a look at the public’s perceptions of and experiences with EHRs.

At the outset of healthcare reform in 2009, few members of the public felt that EHRs would cut healthcare costs, and 59% of respondents to a poll reported having privacy concerns, KFF said. However, over time the public has developed some positive feelings about EHR use as well.

For example, among those whose physician uses an EHR, almost half reported that it has improved both the quality of their care and their interactions with their physicians, compared with 47% stating that the quality of care they get and their interactions had remained the same.

Among the group of consumers, responses varied among age groups, with younger patients expressing the strongest good feelings about EHRs. Fifty-seven percent of adults aged 18 to 29 said that the quality of care they receive is better in the wake of the EHRs’ arrival, and none said that it was worse.

That being said, older consumers weren’t exactly dissatisfied. In fact, 43% of adults aged 30 to 49 said their physicians’ EHR had improved care quality, along with 44% of those aged 50 to 64 and 41% of those aged 65+.

However, it seems that members of the public still have significant concerns about the security of their health information, with 54% of those whose doctors use EHRs reporting that they felt “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that unauthorized persons might gain access to their private health data. Young adults 18 to 29 reported having fewer concerns, but they aren’t incredibly confident either, with 42% reporting that they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about health data security.

Not only that, 45% of respondents said they felt “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about possible errors in their electronic health records that might negatively affect their care, and 21% reported that they or a family member had found an error in their health record. The most common errors they found are incorrect medical histories (9%), followed by incorrect personal information (5%), incorrect lab or test results (3%), incorrect medication or prescription information (3%) and billing issues (less than one percent).

All told, it appears that over the last 10 years many members of the public have adjusted to the presence of EHRs, and that at least some cases they even see EHRs as offering direct benefits. Now, maybe we can begin to build a consensus system that makes both doctors and patients happy? Pretty please?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.