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Physicians Often Lack Easy Electronic Access to Key Patient Information

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   April 11, 2018

Many physicians say their access to patient data is lacking, pointing to a need for better interoperability.

Patient data can provide information to physicians about everything from prescribing history to insurance coverage, but for such data to be useful, physicians need to be able to access it.

According to a new report from Surescripts, many physicians say their access to patient data is lacking, pointing to a need for better interoperability.

The report, “Physician Perspectives on Access to Patient Data,” surveyed 300 primary care physicians, all of whom use EHRs to manage patient data. Despite the EHR access, though, only half of respondents said they were extremely or very satisfied with their access to patient information.

According to the survey, the biggest gap in physician data access is information about patients’ medication adherence, which 83% of respondents said is a high priority. Despite the importance of this data, only 17% of physicians said they can easily access their patients’ medication adherence information electronically.

When they do get information about medication adherence, physicians believe it’s often incomplete or untrustworthy. Instead of coming from reliable sources, like pharmacy benefit managers and health plans, the information comes directly from patients, who can be forgetful or misrepresent their medication history to their doctors.

In fact, 56% of respondents say they don’t trust the information they can access about medication adherence, and of those, half say it’s because the information comes from patients.

Prescription price transparency is also important, but inaccessible, to many physicians. The survey found that 56% of physicians say having information about patients’ out-of-pocket medication costs is a high priority.

Seventy-four percent of physicians think it’s important to consider a patient’s medical benefit information before prescribing, and 59% want to be able to compare the cost of similar medications.

However, only 11% can easily access such cost information electronically.

Finally, there’s the issue of other care that patients have received: 88% of respondents think it’s a priority, but only 30% can easily access it electronically.

Moreover, just 33% of physician say they can easily determine which other care providers a patient has seen, and only 30% say they have a secure, electronic way to communicate with other providers.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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