For patients, docs’ digital prowess still underwhelms

For patients, docs’ digital prowess still underwhelms

Patients have said it, and they’ll keep saying it until they get what they want: More and more of them want their docs to go digital. But, as a new report highlights, many docs are still dragging their feet with technology big time.

The recent patient engagement report, which took the pulse of what patients want from their doctor in terms of digital health, underscored the disconnect. Despite the surge in electronic medical records, the meaningful use Stage 2 push toward patient engagement, portals and health information exchange, most docs have been slow on the digital uptake and are still not giving patients what they want.

In fact, according to the report conducted by technology research and consulting firm TechnologyAdvance, more than 37 percent of patients reported their physicians offered none of six digital services categories examined, including secure messaging; online appointment scheduling; online test results and follow up messages.

For an industry that’s supposedly made a huge push toward digital – and a consumer base that’s been digital for a while now – the numbers could be viewed as disappointing, especially considering that the lion’s share of patients, 61 percent to be exact, said they considered digital health services to be important or somewhat important in choosing a healthcare provider. Those are numbers, from a business point of view, that may be very telling for how an healthcare practice or hospital operates.

Out of the 406 patients surveyed at the beginning of 2015, 20 percent reported their physicians had secure online messaging, and 28 percent had access to online test results or diagnoses, despite 33 percent who want their physician to offer this capability. Moreover, another 20 percent of patients surveyed said they wanted a smartphone app for appointment scheduling.

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