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New data shows patient satisfaction and care quality improvements with EHRs

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Patients are finding that more physicians are taking advantage of electronic health record (EHR) capabilities than just ten years ago. In addition, those patients believe that their physician’s use of an EHR improves the quality of the care they receive as well as their interactions with their physician. These findings are included in the January 2019 KFF Health Tracking Poll, published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The poll found that the number of physicians entering patient data into a computer-based medical record, according to the patients responding, almost doubled from 46 percent in 2009 to 88 percent in 2019. Patients participating in the research mostly see the use of EHRs as helpful, although many also had concerns about data security and accuracy.

Among participants in the survey who said their physician uses an EHR, 45 percent said the EHR use has made the quality of care they receive “better.” Almost as many, 44 percent, of those patients also said the physician’s use of an EHR has made their interactions with that physician “better.”

Patient responses differed according to their age group. The youngest patients reported the “most positive effects.” A majority of the poll participants in the age group 18-29 said that the quality of the care they receive is “better” since their physicians uses EHRs. No one in this age group reported their quality of care as “worse.”

Data security was a concern for many of the patients responding to the poll. Over half (54 percent) reported that they felt “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that someone might be able to access their confidential medical information who was not authorized to do so. Again, the younger age group had fewer concerns about their privacy with only 42 percent reported being “very” or “somewhat” concerned about an unauthorized person gaining access to their medical record.

Although some patients were concerned about errors in their medical records, 54 percent said they were “not too concerned” or “not at all concerned.” The majority did not think that errors or discrepancies would negatively impact the quality of care they receive from their physicians.