One More Reason to Implement an EMR

Now there’s one more reason to implement an electronic medical record (EMR): Patients are demanding it. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe health care practitioners who use an EMR to store records offer better care than those who use paper, according to a new survey.

The survey of 1,004 adults, conducted by GfK Roper, found that 78 percent of patients whose doctors use an EMR believe the EMR helps deliver better care—and 38 percent of patients whose doctors don’t use an EMR would like them to do so.

On patients’ wish lists when it comes to EMRs are emailed appointment reminders and online medical records. In fact, patients worry more about access to their medical records than they do about security, according to another survey by GfK Roper, this one of 1,000 adults. And another survey by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that patients are willing to give up some privacy for full access to online medical records.

The surveys highlight the importance of “participatory medicine,” which promotes transparency between health care practitioners and patients, and which is being driven by increased technology, which eliminates the administrative burden of copying and faxing medical records.

Unfortunately, only 49 percent of patients reported that their health care practitioner used an EMR during their last office visit, a number that is unchanged from a similar survey conducted February 2010.

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