Healthcare News & Insights

Hospitals make strides with patient-centered technology

Hospitals are being called upon to make care more patient-centered so patients can take an active role in their care and recovery. As part of that philosophy, facilities have been asked to improve patients’ access to their electronic medical records. In a short time, they’ve come a long way toward meeting this goal. 

GettyImages-168359989A new report from the American Hospital Association (AHA) shows how well hospitals are doing with making medical records accessible.

Before the rise of electronic health records (EHR) systems, it was difficult for patients to see the information written in their charts, which meant they’d often forget key details about their hospital stays and their health conditions.

Now, more patients than ever can easily view their electronic medical information, judging by statistics in the AHA report from its 2015 annual survey.

Back in 2013, only 43% of hospitals offered patients the option of viewing their medical records. This percentage has increased significantly – 92% of hospitals now offer this option to patients. Additionally, in 2013, only 30% of hospitals allowed patients to download information from their medical record. Currently, 84% of hospitals give patients this option.

Follow-ups and changes

EHRs have also become more integral for helping patients make the most of follow-up appointments after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. In 2013, 13% of hospitals could send a referral summary to a third party through their EHRs. Now, 70% of hospitals have that ability.

And, if needed, it’s gotten easier for patients to request changes to their medical records. While only 35% of hospitals had that ability in 2013, 78% of hospitals currently allow patients to do so.

Connecting, communicating with patients

Hospitals have made strides in offering other tech-related conveniences to patients besides the ability to review their medical records. More facilities are allowing patients to pay their bills online (74%), schedule appointments online (45%) and renew prescriptions electronically (44%) than they have in recent years.

Using technology to connect patients with providers has also become more common. Instead of making phone calls to the hospital, more patients can now communicate with their providers online via secure message (63% of hospitals surveyed). This makes it easier for patients to keep providers in the loop about any changes to their condition, which helps them nip problems in the bud before they require an additional hospital stay.

More hospitals are also allowing patients to incorporate self-generated data about their health into their official medical record – 37% of hospitals offer patients the ability to electronically submit patient-generated data, a significant increase from 14% in 2013.

Importance of technology

These technological advances are crucial in an era of value-based payments, since they help hospitals more easily communicate important information to patients about their care. They’re also critical in boosting patient engagement, and making patients active partners in their recovery is a key element that determines the success of any value-based initiative.

Because of changes in response to new federal requirements for meaningful use, hospitals must be sure their EHRs are capable of offering these and other patient-centered features as more emphasis is placed on the role of technology in patient care.

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