Increased use of HIT doesn't equate to more face time

Increased use of health information technology by providers doesn't necessarily translate to more face time with patients, a new report concludes.

The survey, sponsored by TCS Healthcare Technologies, the Case Management Society of America  (CSMA) and the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians (ABQAURP), was conducted in 2008, 2010 and 2012, respectively. The survey findings, outlined in an announcement, include:

  • Greater reliance on health IT systems does not necessarily equal more face-to-face time with patients
  • Smaller caseloads are not analogous with more face time with patients
  • The caseload for most respondents is 25-49 per week
  • Sixty-two percent of those working in home care settings report caseloads of less than 50 per week. Twenty-two percent support only one to nine patients weekly. Thirty-nine percent of care managers report spending "no time" with patients face-to-face
  • Survey participants spend more time on care management tasks such as administrative support and indirect patient contacts than face-to-face time with patient

"The variation found in caseload sizes and corresponding face-to-face time with patients is inconsistent. Our industry needs to continue to work on understanding what impacts a caseload and that variations are expected," Cheri Lattimer, a registered nurse and executive director of CSMA, said in the announcement. "I believe we can enhance care coordination when patient engagement is the greater part of the case managers' daily activity."

Although the use of electronic communications by some physician practices has led to improved efficiency and patient satisfaction, widespread adoption of such technology remains elusive, according to research published last summer in Health Affairs.

Fewer than one-third of physicians reported they exchanged secure email messages with patients in 2012.

While text messages and email have nearly replaced traditional phone and face-to-face communication, a survey recently conducted for The Atlantic determined that of 1,000 Americans, only one in 10 has ever emailed or texted with their doctor.

According to an article accompanying the survey, confidentiality could be one reason so few have used such communication methods, as could a lack of technology on the part of the doctor.

Just because most Americans haven't emailed or texted with their doctors, though, doesn't mean that they don't want to do so. Last spring, researchers from the University of California San Francisco found that a significant majority of uninsured and underinsured patients use texting and email, and would like to use it for healthcare services, as well.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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