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November 24, 2015

Digital health hits plateau, patient time & usability top doctors’ concerns

News: Transactional use of IT hindering patient-doctor collaboration.

By Ellie Burns

The use of IT in healthcare has been put under the digital microscope, with English doctors taking a transactional, generally positive, approach to Electronic Health Records (EHR).

This positive approach is reflected in the adoption of EHR, with 86% of English doctors saying they are more proficient at using EHR than two years ago.

However, the hope that digital health would move toward a more collaborative delivery of healthcare has not been realised, with the top three Health IT functions used by English doctors mainly transactional.

70% of doctors received clinical results electronically; 68% entered patient notes electronically; and 66% electronically accessed patient notes from those seen at a different health organisation.

The report also shows that English doctors remain positive in regards to patient updating of personal electronic medical records (EMR).

88% of English doctors said that patient updating of personal electronic medical records (EMR) is helping with patient engagements, with a further 86% said that it helped patient satisfaction. Only 55%, however, said that patient updating of EMR helped the accuracy of record.

Although positive in outlook, there has been a plateau in this perception towards digital health since 2012, with negligible increases.

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Between 2012 and 2015, English doctors who believe EMR has led to a reduction in medical errors has only risen 4%, while those who believe EMR improves health outcomes for patients has risen only 2%. The belief that EMR has improved the quality of treatment decisions actually decreased 2%.

In addition to the plateau, doctors have also raised concerns over their contact time with patients, with 5 in 10 saying that healthcare IT has decreased time spent with patients. Of concern was also the 47% of doctors who found their organisation’s EHR systems hard to use – highlighting the problems with user experience.

The report’s author, Accenture, recommends doctors embrace new technology platforms and the collaborative doctor-patient care models that underpin them. Accenture also urges doctors to play a role in the configurability and usability of platforms.

Accenture commissioned a six-country survey of 2,619 doctors to assess their adoption and attitudes toward electronic health records and healthcare IT. The Accenture doctors survey 2015 polled 502 doctors in England.


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