The great digital divide: Patients and docs disagree on role of technology

EHR patient

Photo credit: Getty/pandpstock001

Patients and doctors have very different opinions on the role technology should play in healthcare.

Nearly 90 percent of patients feel entitled to access their physicians’ notes, while only 60 percent of physicians embrace such clinical information sharing. But this changes a bit, the more years a doctor has practiced medicine, according to a recent Medscape survey, which includes responses from more than 1,400 healthcare providers and nearly 850 patients.

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While less than half of physicians under the age of 34 wanted patients to have access to their notes, two-thirds of physicians 45 and older supported sharing their notes with patients.

There are also differences regarding the sharing of lab results. For example, 71 percent of doctors report that they should have access to such results before they’re shared with patients--by way of contrast, only 51 percent of patients agree with that approach. One study that involved an email survey of Kaiser Permanente members found patients overwhelmingly reacted positively to being able to view their lab results online.

Patients with cancer can pose a challenge to the immediate release of lab results, as highlighted in the survey. For example, depending on the way their healthcare provider’s patient portal is set up, patients may have access to the results of tests for tumor markers--and that can cause a lot of stress for the patient, absent a conversation with their physician, who can put such results in context.

Some additional findings:

Marked disagreement on who “owns” the patient record. While 60 percent of the patients surveyed by Medscape feel that they own their medical record, only 38 percent of doctors agreed with that sentiment. Thirty-seven percent of doctors and 20 percent of patients report that their physician or healthcare provider owns their medical record.

Significant disagreement on leveraging technology for self-diagnosis. Nearly 40 percent of patients support using technology to diagnose their own ailments, which is in stark difference to 18 percent of physicians. In addition, 31 percent of doctors report lack of ease with using technology for patients’ self-diagnoses and prefer in-person consultations--that’s compared with 13 percent of patients.

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