Survey: Patients Say Data Exchange Vital for Healthcare

Having the right health information at the right time in the right place has been the ideal goal for health information management (HIM) professionals for some time. It appears that the vast majority of patients agree, according to a recent survey from Human subsidiary Transcend Insights. A staggering 97 percent of the nearly 2,600 survey respondents indicated that it is important for any health institution to have access to their full medical history in order for them to provide high quality care.

The majority of respondents also rated having access to their own medical records (92 percent) and the ability for healthcare providers to easily share important medical information (93 percent) as top priorities, according to Business Wire. The key message, it seems, is that patients believe it is of the utmost importance that their health information is able to follow them wherever they are seeking treatment.

There may be a disconnect, however, between patients’ conviction about the importance of health data sharing abilities and their awareness of the current abilities of providers to do so. According to the results, 72 percent of patients “assume that their care provider(s) can easily share and access important information about their medical history, whenever or wherever they need care.” Information sharing and interoperability continue to present a formidable challenge to the healthcare industry.

The survey authors noted that recent industry studies have indicated that the actual rates of providers successfully sharing health data is much lower than patient assumptions. “One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, found that despite attempts by primary care physicians (PCPs) to share patient medical records—only 34.8 percent of specialists received information about a patient from their referring PCP,” according to the authors. “Patients place a great deal of trust in care providers, but may not know that the technology systems care providers use present challenges to easily sharing full medical records with all providers who might need them.”

Sarah Sheber is assistant editor/web editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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