Much has been written about ePatients. I subscribe to both of the main interpretations: “Engaged” and “Electronic” Patients. The reason for this is that, in 2013, to be Engaged means that you’re Electronic—or as we like to say “digital.”
The ePatients of the 2010’s are just now coming into their own. They have had a voice for a while, but now they’re getting the DATA to back up their opinions. (Like ePatient Dave says in his Ted Talk: give me my damn data).
The biggest barrier to a world of more ePatients is reasonable access. Today’s healthcare system will have a form, a fee, and a two-week wait for a photocopy and claim that patients have access to their information. That’s just not true. The barriers of attention (form), finance (fee), and patience (wait), are staggeringly high. We live in a world where putting a sign-in form in front of your information can reduce your readership by more than half, think about what the old world information barriers do to Millennials and others who are simply not used to having to deal with this old, slow, and cranky method of information access.
So, we have ePatient Dave and “Give me my damn data.” We also have companies, such as MediConnect, devoted to helping the more aggressive collectors for a fee. But the world of the global, interconnected EHR is a long way off and Meaningful Use carrots are moving slowly.
Slowly… but they are moving. The Meaningful Use Phase 2 requirements include a tip of the hat to the ePatient movement… 5% of an entity’s patient population must be actively using the EHR to qualify for the MU payments. This is the best news ePatients have ever received. This effectively forces providers to have web-based electronic access to all patient records. When patients have access to their data, they can think about, and act on that data and hopefully become more engaged.
One more ePatient / data example. As reported in the Klick Wire, when patients are given access to their doctor’s notes online, 87% use the service. That is an astounding number. From nearly 0% to 87% just by opening up access. What would happen if we provided this information and actually incented consumers to use it? Interesting statistics from the report:
- 11,797 of 13,564 (87%) patients with visit notes available opened at least 1 note
- 77% to 87% across the 3 sites reported that open notes helped them feel more in control of their care
- 60% to 78% of those taking medications reported increased medication adherence
- 1% to 8% reported that the notes caused confusion, worry, or offense
- 20% to 42% reported sharing notes with others
- 59% to 62% of patients believed that they should be able to add comments to a doctor’s note
- At the end of the experimental period, 99% of patients wanted open notes to continue and no doctor elected to stop
In a nutshell, all patients are ePatients just waiting for the right conditions to bloom.