An Accenture survey reveals that almost two thirds of doctors surveyed in England (65%) believe that the introduction of electronic health records has improved the quality of patient care.
A majority of doctors (86%) agree that electronic health records will become integral to effective patient care in the next two years, reflecting the Government’s ambition to have a paperless NHS by 2018.
Patients access to records
An overwhelming 94% of doctors surveyed believe patients should have at least some access to their electronic health record, which is in sync with the Government’s March 2015 goal to provide everyone with access to their health records. However, most doctors in England believe there should be limits to the extent patients are able to access their health records. Only a third of doctors (34%) believe a patient should have full access to their own record, 60% believe patients should have limited access and 6% say they should have no access, compared to global averages of 24%, 61% and 14% respectively. Out of all eight countries (Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the US) included in the Accenture survey of 3,700 doctors, respondents in England have the highest level of support for full access.
The majority of doctors in England believe patients should be able to update some or all of the standard information in their health records, in line with the global average across all countries, including demographics (87%), family medical history (84%), medications (66%) and allergies (77%). Additionally, the majority of doctors believe patients should even be able to add such clinical updates to their records as new symptoms (71%) or self-measured metrics (78%), including blood pressure and glucose levels. These findings were consistent with global averages across all countries in the survey.
Perceptions of electronic health records
Yet, despite their desire for patient participation in updating electronic health records, and the belief shared by nearly half of doctors (49%) surveyed that giving patients this access is critical to providing effective care, many electronic services are not available to patients, with only 11% of respondents surveyed citing that patients currently have online access to their medical information. The belief that access is critical to care is broadly consistent globally (41%) while online access to medical information is more prevalent in most other countries, rising to nearly a third in the US and Singapore (30% each) with a global average of 19%.
“Electronic health records are better for patients and better for medical staff. They help improve patient care quality and capture patient feedback, as recommended in the Francis Report,” said Jim Burke, managing director, who leads Accenture’s health business in the UK. “We believe the benefits outweigh the risks in allowing patients open access to their health records. There is a short term positive impact for the patient as real-time information becomes readily available to medical staff and, in the long term, such initiatives can save billions for an already stretched NHS, ultimately allowing for a more effective allocation of resources to meet the challenges of a growing and ageing population.”
On behalf of Accenture, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of 3,700 doctors across eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the US. The survey included 500 doctors per country (200 from Singapore) and assessed their adoption, utilisation and attitudes towards healthcare IT. The research was conducted between November 2012 and December 2012.