Patients express strong desire for more health care technology

Health care providers need to understand that electronic health record systems are not merely pieces of technology that the government is requiring them to adopt – they are also valuable tools that can give patients important insight into their overall health. Recently, Government Health IT reported on the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where key speakers discussed the increased importance patients are placing on mobile health devices and seeing a doctor who has a functioning EHR system. 

Abbe Don of Epocrates and Lygeia Ricciardi, director of consumer eHealth for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said that consumers are caring more about the technology that their doctors are using than the personal relationships they have with physicians. What they mean by this is that if doctors are unwilling to adopt new technology, they may find that their patients are leaving them for providers who are more tech-savvy

Furthermore, EHR systems are not the only forms of technology that doctors should familiarize themselves with. The news source explained that consumers are also interested in making use of more mobile health tools that allow them to keep constant track of their health. For example, during the International CES, a panel explained that over the course of the next four years the wearable health care sensors market is expected to gross $12 billion. 

"We're really trying to deploy computing onto the body," David Icke, CEO of MC10, told Government Health IT. 

Icke explained that his company is working on a sensor that can be put in a skullcap to help athletes, bikers and other active individuals determine if a head injury they have sustained may have resulted in a concussion. 

Mobile tools may benefit patients
Penn State News reported on Erika Poole, a researcher from Pennsylvania State University who is working on creating technology that can help people make smarter health choices throughout their daily lives. 

"When it comes to designing the technologies, it is possible for your phone or a wearable device to track all kinds of information about your body and your daily life habits, but we don't yet have robust understanding of how to present this information in ways that promote behavior changes, and remain interesting and motivating to consumers after the initial novelty fades," Poole told the news source. 

She added that these devices need to reach people at the right time in their lives, which can be different for everyone. 

"Behavior change is really hard. We don't have it all figured out," Poole said. "But the individual and societal benefits are clear. Life changes – positive and negative – can provide motivation. Heart attacks might be a wakeup call for some, but having a child might be the motivation for others." 

Providers should be encouraging their patients' curiosity and desire to examine their EHRs, since if doctors can get patients to access patient portals they may have an easier time completing stage 2 of the meaningful use incentives programs. 

Doctors should explain to patients the benefits of having access to their EHRs. For example, if patients have a clear picture of their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health indicators that they are normally only aware of when they go to the doctor, they may be able to do more to improve their health when they are at home. Providers also need to make sure that they have provided their patients with easy ways to access their files not only on their home computers, but also on their cell phones and tablets, which is how more people are getting their information.