Survey: U.S. docs mixed on benefits of connected health

Doctors understand the basic benefits of connected health, including data-sharing via electronic health systems and health information exchanges, but don't quite grasp the finer points, according to an international study of more than 3,700 doctors.

Most doctors said healthcare IT improves access to quality data for clinical research (71 percent), improves care coordination (69 percent) and reduces medical errors (66 percent).

But reducing unneeded procedures, improving access to services and improving patient outcomes? Not so much: Roughly 40 percent said that connected health has a negative impact, no impact or unknown impact on these three areas. The survey was conducted by technology services firm Accenture.

Still, physicians who routinely use healthcare IT rated the overall benefits more positively than less active users. The survey confirmed the conventional wisdom that there is a health IT generation gap--older docs are not as keen on health IT as their younger counterparts.

The survey also revealed a geographic gap: U.S. doctors are less enthusiastic about the benefits of health IT than their international colleagues. For example, the U.S. had the lowest number of doctors (45 percent) who think healthcare IT will improve diagnostic decisions--compared to 61 percent globally.

The U.S. doctors were less generous about health IT's ability to improve patient outcomes and quality of treatment decisions, as well.

"The survey shows that more needs to be done to bridge the disconnect between physician perceptions and the U.S. federal government's goal of increasing the adoption of meaningful use standards," Rick Ratliff, global lead, Accenture Connected Health Services, said in a release. "The challenge is to encourage behavioral change across the healthcare system through education and ongoing communication, helping physicians to embrace greater use of healthcare IT to demonstrate the value of Connected Health."

For more information:
- read the Accenture release 

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