Survey: Health IT should empower patients, increase interactive experience

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ORLANDO—Consumers increasingly want access to technology and services that they are currently not receiving from their healthcare providers, according to a new survey from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, released at the 2008 HIMSS conference.

The 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers represents more than 3,000 U.S. participants between the ages of 18 and 75. More than 93 percent of consumers surveyed say they are not well prepared for future healthcare costs, making sensitivity to the cost for care increasingly important. Consumers are interested in using online tools to shop around to compare prices and the quality of care provided by their healthcare providers.

Also, they are interested in visiting physician websites (65 percent) and hospital websites (62 percent) to research the price of services offered. Consumers surveyed also are interested in visiting physician websites (67 percent) and hospital websites (64 percent) to research the quality of care offered.

“Patients clearly want and increasingly expect to be able to access their medical records and connect with their healthcare providers online,” said Russ Rudish, vice chairman and U.S. healthcare providers sector leader at Deloitte. “To remain competitive, it’s going to be critical for healthcare providers to adopt new technologies and offer enhanced services to meet consumers’ expectations or they may risk losing future business.”

Today’s healthcare consumers are already seeking care in non-conventional settings because in the last 24 months, 21 percent have purchased prescription medication online or by mail; 37 percent say they might do so in the future, the survey found. Some 16 percent have already used a retail clinic, and 34 percent say they might do so in the future.

The survey’s findings include:
  • 3 out of 4 of consumers want their physicians to provide online access to an integrated medical record; 1 in 4 would pay more for this service.
  •  More than 70 percent of consumers want their hospitals to provide online access to their medical record and test results; 1 in 4 would pay more for this service.
  • 1 in 4 consumers say they maintain a form of a personal health record (PHR); 46 percent would be willing to use a software program or website to create a PHR.
  • Nearly 3 out of 4 want physicians to provide online services to schedule appointments; 18 percent would pay more for this service.
  • 3 out of 4 of consumers are interested in e-mail access to their doctors; nearly 1 in 4 would pay more for this service.
  •  88 percent of consumers want expanded use of in-home monitoring devices and online tools that would reduce the need for visits and allow individuals to be more active in their care
“The findings highlight the impact technology is playing in the day-to-day lives of health care consumers,” said John Bigalke, vice chairman, U.S. health sciences and government industry leader at Deloitte.