Paperwork overload may drive patients away from providers

Few patients or providers will admit they enjoy all the paperwork involved in healthcare, but according to a new survey, this overabundance of red tape may even cause patients to skip the hospital or doctor's office entirely.

Harris Poll, which conducted the survey on behalf of global technology company Ricoh, polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults on the subject of "information mobility" in American hospitals, defined as the ability to transform, repurpose and search for data in any format, according to a survey announcement.

Of those polled, 77 percent said that paperwork cuts into the time clinicians spend with patients, and 60 percent would rather search for treatment for non-life-threatening issues on the Internet than deal with healthcare paperwork. The latter has its problems, as people who search for health information online often use only one search engine and look at only the first page of results, FierceHealthIT has reported. 

Poll respondents also thought highly of the use of technology in care settings, as 74 percent said hospitals that use mobile devices to collect patient data are more efficient than those that do not, and 85 percent said they would feel more comfortable about a hospital's quality of care knowing it is using the latest technology.

Another recent survey found that patients are overwhelmingly comfortable with the use of technology in healthcare, yet indicated factors such as verbal communication, privacy and eye contact remain the most important parts of a positive care experience. Using digital tools to increase efficiency thus can lead to "the luxury of more bedside time with the patient," Bud Lawrence, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, California, told FierceHealthIT.

Physicians also can maximize the use of their ever-shrinking time with patients by asking them to fill out paperwork prior to the appointment and having educational material ready in the exam room, according to FiercePracticeManagement. Indeed, 79 percent of the Harris respondents said they feel more connected to providers who spend less time on paperwork.

To learn more:
- here's the survey announcement