Study shows patients still value a personal connection to their doctors

Research continues to show that patients are placing increased importance on whether their doctor has an electronic health record system, since they want to have swift and complete access to their medical histories. However, this does not mean that individuals no longer care about having a personal connection to their doctor. While convenience is important, patients will not be satisfied to merely connect with their doctor via the Internet – they also want to have intricate and effective communication with him or her when they are in the office. 

Those were the findings of a recent report from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which set out to explore some of the values that are integral to the concept of a patient-centered medical home, as well as what is most important to patients. A patient-centered medical home is a model of delivering care that places an increased importance on having regular and effective communication between patients and their families and providers. Furthermore, this care model also encourages providers to keep in regular contact with one another, to make sure that they are providing the best possible care to shared patients.

Patients want greater communication
EHRIntelligence reported that the study shows that while the world may be becoming increasingly tech-savvy, that does not mean that patients do not still place importance on one-on-one, in-person communication. Quyen Ngo-Metzger, M.D., senior study author, was taken aback by discovering that what patients seem to crave most is not high-tech gadgetry as much as an enhanced connection with their doctors and a positive experience in their offices. She explained that she was surprised to learn that patients' top priorities were begin able to see their health care provider without having to face a long wait beforehand, and then having productive conversations with them once they were in the office. 

EHRs can help
Luckily for providers who are participating in the meaningful use incentives program, EHRs and patient portals can help provide patients with the enhanced experience they are looking for. Through patient portals, individuals can have the ability to clearly see their doctors' schedules and make an appointment that is convenient for them. Furthermore, doctors can use these systems to better manage their workflows and be more efficient, so they will no longer leave their patients in the waiting room for a long period of time. 

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons explained that the care process involves near-continuous communication with patients, and this can be made easier through the use of patient portals. 

"For example, a trigger event, such as the patient's sustaining an Achilles tendon injury during a weekend hike, leads to an appointment request. Using structured forms and a HIPAA-compliant portal, a patient can schedule an appointment, submit health information, and, most importantly, describe symptoms and problems before the appointment. As the care team assembles, the portal provides opportunities for further patient engagement. Patient education materials and reminder communications can be delivered to the patient, providing the potential for improved treatment compliance and better outcomes," wrote Howard Mevis, the AAOS director of electronic media, evaluation programs, course operations and practice management. 

Mevis added that furthermore, through patient portals, doctors can provide individuals with education materials related to their conditions. Specifically for orthopedic doctors, they can give their patients information regarding what they need to do both leading up to and following orthopedic surgery. Also, after a surgery, patients can receive a questionnaire that can assess how their recovery process is going. Clearly, there are many benefits of EHRs and patient portals for both providers and the individuals they treat.