Survey: Americans want providers who are more digitally connected

Americans are clamoring for doctors who are more digitally connected, and are more frustrated with paperwork and customer service in the healthcare industry than banks, auto dealerships, cellphone companies and others, a new survey finds.

Almost half of the more than 1,000 respondents to the survey, conducted on behalf of Surescripts, said they had gone to the doctor's office earlier than scheduled to fill out paperwork. In addition, 55 percent said their medical history was incomplete when visiting their provider.

What's more, 50 percent of respondents said that renewing a driver's license would require less paperwork than seeing a doctor for the first time.

"Dangerous voids in health information sharing can easily be solved through the use of digital communications and technology," Tom Skelton, CEO at Surescripts, said in an announcement. "This survey proves patients take notice and are ready for a change." 

The survey's respondents had favorable opinions of provider use of technology. About 50 percent said they would be more willing to reach out to their doctor if they could do so via email or text, and 43 percent said that form of communication would make them feel less rushed when asking questions.

Patients also reacted positively to use of tablets or computers during appointments, with 70 percent saying the doctor was organized and efficient when using such tools.

As the population shifts to a higher concentration of patients who have used digital technology everyday their whole lives, digital consumer-like conveniences are going to become more of a demand, Tampa General Hospital CIO Scott Arnold recently told FierceHealthIT. The healthcare industry is 10 to 15 years behind the times when it comes to technology, Arnold added, and must provide the conveniences people already get in other realms of life.

Consumers, so far, have been more positive about new health IT than providers have been. In a recent survey conducted by Scripps Health, consumer and provider respondents expressed support for new health technologies, but consumers were far more enthusiastic about such offerings than doctors. Nearly 40 percent of consumers said they were OK with using technology for self-diagnosis of non-life threatening medical conditions, compared to only around 14 percent of providers.

To learn more:
- here's the survey
- read the announcement