Health IT Lags Behind Demand

Laura Joszt

Patients are ready for more online health care access, but health information technology adoption in the industry isn't growing fast enough to meet that demand.

Patients are ready for more online health care access, according to a report by Optum Institute. The national survey of consumers, physicians, hospital executives revealed that health information technology adoption in the industry isn’t growing fast enough for consumers.

The number of physicians who use electronic medical records (EMRs) is constantly growing. According to Optum, 70% of respondents have basic EMR capabilities, but only 40% can engage with patients by email or provide patients with access to their health records.

If there’s one thing, though, that people of today like, it’s new technology. According to Optum, 75% of consumers want to go online to view their records and more than 60% want to be able to communicate with their doctors either through email or the internet.

“Nearly two decades after email has become widespread, most patients say they want to — but still can’t – email their care provider,” Simon Stevens, chairman of the Optum, said in a statement. “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.”

And it’s not just the younger generation pushing the industry forward. More than half (57%) of all seniors want to manage their health and communicate online.

Optum suggests that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services actually set the bar too low for Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements by only requiring at least 50% of patients have access to health information and only 5% use that information and communicate with providers.

“While hospitals and physicians have made considerable progress in adopting new technologies, our research underscores the pressing need to increase the level of patient-facing technology to create strong, two-way patient-physician communication,” Carol Simon, director of the Optum, said in a statement.