6 barriers to use of patient-generated health data

It might be time for doctors to reexamine the value of patient-generated health data.

A new survey from Medscape finds that 57% of patients bring such health data to office visits with their doctors even if they are not asked to. And nearly two-thirds find that their healthcare professional is more engaged when they do.

Medscape/WebMD officials Christina Hoffman and Jamie DeMaria presented the results of the survey on Monday at the HIMSS annual conference in Orlando, Florida.

The survey also found that more than 80% of patients would provide health data if they think doctors will use it to develop a treatment plan. Not only are doctors more engaged, but 66% of healthcare professionals say that patients are more engaged when they bring their own health data to an office visit, even if it is often in the form of handwritten notes.

While it’s not new for patients to bring doctors health-related data—such as symptoms, medication side effects, and lifestyle choices—technology is offering solutions to effectively collect, share and use the data. As consumers increasingly embrace mobile health and fitness devices, some physicians are more than a bit wary of relying on such data for patient care.

Hoffman and DeMaria identified six barriers to overcome for providers to make better use of patient-generated health data:

  • Ask for patients to gather the information.
  • Explain why the data is important and how it will be used in care.
  • Listen to and use the information provided by the patient.
  • Make data collection easy, such as by using standardized or digital forms, to insure data relevance, organization, reliability and accuracy.
  • Look for better technology solutions for data integration into the EHR.
  • Allow for time during the patient visit to discuss the data.