Patients Want EHealth And Personal Attention

According to the The Accenture Connected Health Pulse Survey, 2012, 90% of US patients surveyed want to embrace eHealth self-service options, such as access to health information, scheduling and prescription refills, but nearly half of them are not even aware that their health records are available electronically. Additionally, 85% want the option of communicating with their doctor in person.

While the majority of patients want digital access to self-service, an overwhelming 90% cite the Web as the channel of choice for accessing health information to help manage conditions.Many look to the Web for other self-service options, including:

  • 83% want to access personal medical information
  • 72% want to book, change or cancel appointments
  • 72% want to request prescription refills

The survey also indicated that a majority of patients want to take advantage of self-service options through other channels, such as via email and mobile devices. For example:

  • 88% want to receive reminders via email when it is time for preventative or follow-up care  
  • 63% want such reminders sent to their mobile phone
  • 64% want to request prescription refills via email and
  • 76% want to communicate with their doctor via email
  • 74% who want to use the telephone to communicate with their physician

In addition:

  • 90% want to use digital to manage their healthcare
  • 85% want to communicate in person with their doctor
  • Patients embrace eHealth self-service options…but not willing to sacrifice personal interactions

The study illustrates that patients are hungry for information, says the report, and they want it in more ways than one. They are interested in digital self-service, but they still want face time with physicians. During these in-person visits, doctors are informing patients of the services that are available to patients online. But, according to the survey, it may not be happening.

When asked, “Do your doctors provide you online access to the following information or services?” a third of the patients surveyed did not know whether services such as bill pay, electronic reminders and lab results were available to them online. The report suggests that, while the physician/ patient encounter should focus on care, the doctor may seize opportunities to inform the patient of what self-service options are available to them online.

There are geographical differences in patients’ desire for online access. The study revealed that patients who primarily live in rural areas are less likely to want their records available online. Since geography influences knowledge of and desire for online self-service, communications should include messaging that is more appropriate and resonates with patients, especially those in rural areas. 

Summarizing the findings, the report finds the majority of patients want service through digital channels:

Preference For Digital Information

Service and Channel

% of Respondents Wanting Service

Access Prescriptions





Reminders For Follow Up Care





Book, Change or Cancel Appointments





Source: The Accenture Connected Health Pulse Survey, 2012

The report concludes by noting that online self-service has many potential benefits: it helps reduce costs, drive efficiency and empower patients to take an active role in their healthcare. Healthcare providers should bear in mind that while in-person will never be out of style, they can better educate patients and ultimately drive greater adoption of self-service channels.

For additional information about the study from Accenture, please visit BusinessWire here.


1 comment about "Patients Want EHealth And Personal Attention".
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  1. Laurie Gelb from Profit by Change, July 3, 2012 at 4:54 p.m.

    So disappointing to see another e-health laundry list study, while real patients with definable needs wait impatiently (pun intended) to be served.

    Alas, "I want X" statements have no meaning until we know what X is and why it's wanted (i.e. what need it addresses, like concern about previously unrecognized drug interactions, in which case we can teach people to use online interaction checkers while we build/populate personalized portals).

    This isn't like "I wish my corn flakes were crunchier." Every health management need has a potential outcome attached, and time with unmet needs is a killer.

    Nor can we generalize across hospitals, networks, clinics and practices to constructs such as availability of EHRs, rx history, online statement viewing, etc.

    Obviously, even when they exist, usefulness and usability of such offerings varies widely -- some save time and others add it. But a considerable investment was made in the good and the bad alike. So where are the questions about functional requirements, specific experiences, prioritization of needs, number/type of care sites used, dx/rx...oh, and you just might want to ask clinicians and administrative staff a few pointed questions as well.

    When "needs assessment" becomes "top of my mind, that sounds good" assessment, the results only distract from the design of systems/tools that decrease aggregate cycle time, reduce transaction costs and improve health outcomes. I'm in if you are.

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