Patients are well ahead of providers in demanding online access to health information (IT) and communication tools, according to a new survey. Consumers are eager to use both the internet and mobile devices to connect with their healthcare data and their providers in much the same way they have come to conduct business with other professionals.

In June 2012, the Optum Institute surveyed physicians, hospital executives, and adult consumers about health IT and aspects of patient-centered care. Researchers found that while physicians are rapidly adopting health IT, functions that would facilitate patient engagement are falling short. Other results from the study include:

75% of patients are willing to go online to view their medical records (76% are willing to view test results), but only 41% of physicians have EMR systems capable of giving patients timely access to this information.

62% of patients want to correspond online with their primary physician about their health, but only 46% of physicians have EMR systems capable of communicating patient-specific information to help patients make decisions about their health

65% of patients want appointment reminders via e-mail, but only 44% of physicians have EMR systems that provide guideline-based follow-up or screening reminders.

The report also found that nearly two-thirds of consumers are interested or very interested in receiving appointment reminders by e-mail; 40% want text reminders. Only 28% want mailed appointment reminders, which are typically still the norm today.

The report concludes that Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements set the bar too low, requiring that at least 50% of patients have access to their health information and that only 5% use that information and communicate with providers.

“Consumers are well ahead of providers in their willingness and ability to go online, communicate, and access important and usually confidential information. Indeed, consumers are in the digital, online world every day in their interactions with banks, merchants, schools, and employers. And the failure to recognize the potential of online and especially mobile IT threatens to widen healthcare disparities.”

View full report here.

Physician’s Weekly wants to know… does the onus fall on physician to meet patients’ expectations, or are they doing enough by meeting weak Meaningful Use requirements?