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Cost is main barrier to adoption of electronic records

Doctors wary of costs and privacy, survey reveals

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fears over costs are preventing doctors from embracing healthcare IT, according to new findings.

A survey of 3,700 doctors, launched at the World of Health IT Conference in Dublin (May 14-16) reveals that doctors in England indicate that the main barrier to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) adoption is cost (25%, up significantly from 14% in 2011).

Privacy and security of patient information also remains a concern, although less so than in previous years. In 2012, 11% of doctors ranked this issue as a concern, down from 17%.

The survey of doctors across eight countries (500 of whom were in England), launched by technology company Accenture, explores doctors’ adoption, utilisation and attitudes towards healthcare IT.

Despite concerns, doctors’ use of healthcare IT and HIE has risen slightly in England. Some 31% of doctors are routine HIE users, up from 29% in 2011 and the majority of doctors (82%) use Electronic Medical Records.

Additionally, doctors in England are embracing the Internet with 77% reading online forums and 58% viewing online videos.

And most doctors (86%) believe that electronic health records will become integral to effective patient care in the next two years - in line with the government’s ambition to have a paperless NHS by 2018.

However, although 94% of those surveyed said patients should have at least some access to their electronic health record, in sync with the government’s March 2015 goal to provide everyone with access to their health records, only 11% of respondents said patients currently have online access to this.

Jim Burke, who leads Accenture’s health business in the UK, urged doctors to embrace electronic health records describing them as “better for patients and better for medical staff”.

“We believe the benefits outweigh the risks in allowing patients open access to their health records,” he said.

“There is a short-term positive impact for the patient as real-time information becomes readily available to medical staff and, in the long term, such initiatives can save billions for an already stretched NHS, ultimately allowing for a more effective allocation of resources to meet the challenges of a growing and ageing population.”

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