National Survey Looks at Current State of Patient Engagement

Consumer Demand for Online Access to Health Information Growing

A new national survey published last week provides insights into U.S. consumers’ willingness to go online to view their medical records and engage with healthcare providers. Conducted by Optum Institute/Harris Interactive, the survey of consumers, physicians and hospital execs shows Health IT adoption growing but consumers wanting more access.

From the report’s executive summary:

Patient engagement is at the core of health reform. From patient-centered medical homes to making patient and family engagement a mandatory Meaningful Use (MU) requirement, policy makers have come to recognize that engaged patients are healthier patients.Does MU go far enough? Fast enough? Our data say no. Consumers are well ahead of providers in demanding online access to health information and communication tools.

In June 2012, the Optum Institute surveyed physicians, hospital executives, and adult consumers about health information technology (IT) and aspects of patient-centered care. We found that consumers are well ahead of providers in their willingness and ability to engage using health IT.Consumers increasingly seek out information and communicate online, while provider health IT systems lag behind.

“Nearly two decades after email has become widespread, most patients say they want to – but still can’t – email their care provider,” said Simon Stevens, chairman of the Optum Institute. “This research underlines the need for health information systems that can talk to each other, and that allow patients to access their own health information.”

Key Survey Findings

The survey is a barometer on the opinions of consumers, physicians and hospital executives on patient engagement and health IT adoption. Several key themes make the case for increasing deployment of technology-based tools to enhance or increaes patient engagement:

  • Consumers are ready to use Health IT now – 75% are willing to go online to view their medical records; more than 60 percent want the ability to communicate with their doctor by email or Internet.
  • 57% of the seniors surveyed say the are ready and willing to go online to manage their health and communicate with their physicians.
  • Though mobile devices bring security concerns they also offer the opportunity to connect quickly, especially among the young, minorities and Medicaid beneficiaries who are looking to communicate through text messaging.

Read the full survey here.