Ask most physicians and hospital administrators about EHR (after the often-hectic GoLive is a distant memory, of course), and you’ll likely hear the same thing: EHR enhances patient care, improves patient safety, reduces costs long-term for the practice, reduces the need for excess staff, and makes the office more efficient overall. In short, when it works, EHR is a real benefit to the medical industry.
The problem is that most American patients don’t see it that way. According to a new poll by Xerox, only 26 percent of Americans want EHRs. The findings come from the third annual EHR online survey of over 2,400 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive for Xerox.
According to findings, only 40 percent of respondents believe that EHRs will help doctors deliver better care. And, 85 percent of respondents expressed concern about EHRs. The main reason they stated was a fear their information will be stolen by hackers.
The good news about these grim statistics is that it highlights how important open and clear communication is between hospital and clinic support staff, and the patients they serve. The more that staff members, including doctors and nurses, educate patients on the benefits and security of EHR, the more these percentages will go down.
Educating Patients about EHR
There are several ways to communicate the benefits of EHR to your patients. If you’ve already selected a vendor and scheduled your GoLive date, send out an announcement (via email or regular mail) four to six weeks ahead of time, letting patients know about the changeover.
In your announcement, take time to talk about why EHR will benefit the clinics, and the steps you’ve taken to ensure patient information security is a top concern. If possible, include statistics from outside, reliable sources that demonstrate the security of your system, or EHRs in general.
Last, make sure doctors, nurses, and support staff continue to talk about EHR security. Invite everyone who walks in the door to ask questions and raise concerns. Only with open communication and continuous education will patients start to feel more comfortable with EHR technology.