Most Patients Want to Self-Manage Healthcare Online

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The vast majority of patients (90%) want to self-manage their healthcare leveraging technology, such as accessing medical information, refilling prescriptions and booking appointments online, but nearly half (46%) are unaware if their health records are available electronically, according to a new survey by Accenture.

The survey of 1,100 U.S. patients also found that while people want to increase access to digital channels, the majority of those surveyed (85%) also want to preserve their in-person interactions with doctors when needed. “Patients increasingly want access to their personal medical information, anytime, anywhere,” said Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, who leads Accenture’s North America health industry group. “But they’re not willing to give up the option of face time with their physicians.”

Despite the fact that most respondents (83%) want online access to their health records, according to the survey, patients do not agree on how medical information should be managed. Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) want their doctors to manage their medical records, while the remainder (44%) prefer to manage their own information.

However, one third (33%) of those surveyed did not know whether services such as bill pay, electronic reminders and lab results were available to them online.

The survey showed that patients prefer to use mobile devices, the Internet and email for accessing and managing several key aspects of their own healthcare, including:

  • WEB-BASED ACCESS TO HEALTH INFORMATION: Nearly all patients surveyed (90%) prefer web-based access to health information and education to help manage conditions and nearly three quarters (72%) to book, change or cancel physician appointments.
  • EMAIL INTERACTION WITH PROVIDERS: The majority of respondents (88%) want to receive email reminders when it is time for preventative or follow-up care and three quarters (76%) want the option of email consultations with doctors.
  • SELF-MANAGEMENT OF HEALTHCARE BY MOBILE DEVICES: Most patients surveyed (73%) prefer to use a mobile device for requesting prescription refills.

There are geographical differences in patients’ desire for online access. The study revealed that patients who primarily live in rural areas are less likely to want their records available online. Since geography influences knowledge of and desire for online self-service, communications should include messaging that is more appropriate and resonates with patients, especially those in rural areas.

The report concludes by noting that online self-service has many potential benefits: it helps reduce costs, drive efficiency and empower patients to take an active role in their healthcare. Healthcare providers should bear in mind that while in-person will never be out of style, they can better educate patients and ultimately drive greater adoption of self-service channels.

[Source:  "Connected Health Pulse Survey, 2012."  Accenture.  20 June 2012.  Web.  29 June 2012.]