Study: Patients Favor Electronic Records


NEW YORK — Doctors looking to attract new patients may want to buy an electronic medical record system because a new survey slated to be released Monday found that a majority of consumers said the technology plays a role in their selection of a physician.

The good news for doctors is that patients may offset the cost of such a purchase: Fifty-one percent of consumers said they would be willing to pay for the service if the price was reasonable.

Only 10 percent of doctors surveyed said they had the technology, according to a survey by Accenture, a consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Eighty-six percent of the doctors cited the cost of implementing and/or maintaining the system as a concern. Physicians also worried about the time it would take to implement a program and potential privacy risks for patient information.

According to the American Medical Association, studies suggest that the cost of implementing a system is $30,000 per doctor. Ongoing costs can range between $3,000 and $15,000 a year per doctor.

Numerous health experts tout electronic medical records as a way to lower increasing health care costs and reduce medical errors.

The survey results reflect the public’s growing understanding of how electronic medical records can help improve care, said Dr. Brian Kelly, executive director of Accenture’s Health and Life Sciences practice.

“(Consumers) are saying ‘It is so important I would pay for it at a reasonable cost,” Kelly said. The survey didn’t ask what consumers would consider reasonable.

Two-thirds of the 600 consumers interviewed said that an electronic health record was at least slightly important in their physician choice with 24 percent saying it was very important and the same amount saying it was moderately important.

Seventy-seven percent of consumers said they would have greater access to and more control over their medical records if they were in electronic form. Other benefits of electronic records cited by consumers included the capacity to confirm information provided by a doctor and the ability to ask physicians better questions.

Ninety percent of doctors said electronic medical records would make sharing and obtaining information easy. Other positives noted by physicians included more comprehensive patient information and fewer lost records.

Accenture surveyed randomly selected consumers online last year while it interviewed 100 doctors by phone.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.


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