A successful patient-physician relationship depends on physicians’ ability to communicate information effectively and compassionately. The Internet facilitates physician-patient interaction, email communication, online prescription ordering, and patient appointment scheduling. Patient access to medical records is crucial to enhance the quality of care.
A survey by the American Hospital Association (AHA) has revealed that hospitals are facilitating patients’ access their medical records. The growth in patient access to their record is the result of the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) which established requirements for the electronic capture of clinical data, including providing patients with electronic copies of health information.
A recent Health Data Management report listed the findings of the AHA survey as follows:
- In 2015, up to 92 percent of hospitals let patients view their records online, compared to just 43 percent in 2013.
- Hospitals’ ability to communicate with patients has improved greatly. The capability of patients to download information from their electronic record rose from 30 percent in 2013 to 84 percent in 2015.
- Consumers who want to request a change in their records could do so electronically at 78 percent of hospitals in 2015, while the corresponding proportion was just 35 percent of hospitals in 2013.
- Interoperability has improved. The ability of hospitals to send referral summaries to a third party has increased from to 13 percent in 2013 to 70 percent in 2015.
The AHA survey report noted that with the adoption of EHRs, medical records are now stored in electronic format, which has made performing these tasks easier. Unlike in the past, there is no need to make a formal request to the hospital’s medical records department for a paper copy of the patient’s record.
The survey also revealed other improvements in patients’ ability to communicate electronically:
- Paying bills and conducting other business transactions rose from 56 percent of hospitals in 2013 to 74 percent in 2015.
- Medical appointment scheduling rose from 31 percent of hospitals in 2013 to 45 percent of hospitals in 2015.
- Prescription refills increased to 44 percent of hospitals in 2015 from with 30 percent in 2013.
- Submitting patient generated data was 37 percent of providers in 2015 compared with 14 percent in 2013.
The current health care environment requires increased clinical productivity, but the use of electronic health records (EHRs) has reduced the time that physicians spend with each patient. Outsourcing medical billing and coding, insurance eligibility verification and other revenue cycle management tasks is proving to be a viable option for busy practices as it improves physician productivity, enhances care, reduces costs and boosts their bottom line. Along with improved patient access to health records, professional support for administrative tasks can help physicians enhance the patient experience by allowing them to focus on what they do best.