- A recent Surescripts survey found that 50 percent of physicians think their patient data access could be much better, with many doctors citing improved access to medication adherence, prescription costs, and clinical history data as top priorities.
Administered by ORC International, the survey aimed to understand where providers retrieve data, which data sources they trust, and what data they find most valuable.
“Addressing physicians’ information needs and challenges is critical in an increasingly value-driven industry,” said Dana Benini, Vice President of Healthcare Practice at ORC International.
“The Surescripts survey is an important inside look at physicians’ real-world information access and interoperability challenges and the opportunities to solve them.”
The survey panel included only physicians who use electronic health records (EHRs) to manage patient data, but the results showed that EHR use alone doesn’t guarantee access to all the information doctors may need to deliver quality care.
Only 33 percent of physicians reported that they were very satisfied with their access to patient data, while just 17 percent said they were extremely satisfied.
The results also show that medication adherence is the biggest data gap for doctors: Although 83 percent of physicians believe that access to medication adherence information is a high priority, only 17 percent said that they could access this data electronically.
Provider access to this information is crucial to not only to improving patient outcomes but also cutting down on unnecessary healthcare spending, as medication non-adherence leads to millions in avoidable costs annually.
Medication adherence information was also found to be the least reliable data source for physicians, with 56 percent saying they don’t trust what data they can access about medication adherence.
Of those physicians who said they don’t trust this data, half said the primary reason for their distrust is because it is provided by patients, who can sometimes forget or misinterpret critical information.
Prescription cost data is also regarded as a high priority for doctors, but this information is hard to retrieve as well. Fifty-six percent of providers said that prescription pricing is valuable data, but only 11 percent can easily access it electronically.
The majority of respondents reported that prescription costs should impact prescribing decisions. Seventy-four percent said that it is important to consider a patient’s medical benefit information before prescribing, and 59 percent said that they would like to be able to compare the cost of similar medications.
Prescription cost information is essential for providers to ensure that patients consistently take their medication. A 2017 Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll found that 67 percent of patients are driven into medication non-adherence due to the high cost of prescription drugs.
The Surescripts survey also found that patients’ clinical history data is often difficult for physicians to obtain. While 88 percent said that this is important information, just 30 percent said they have easy access to it.
Only 33 percent of respondents said they can easily determine which other providers a patient has seen, and only 30 percent said they have a secure way of electronically communicating with these other providers.
Failing to access patients’ clinical history can impede care coordination and result in increased costs. If patients receive services from several providers, and their doctors can’t access this information, it can lead to gaps in treatment and preventable hospital admissions.
Improving physician access to patient data can help providers better understand what their patients may need, boost health outcomes, and cut healthcare costs. Identifying provider data gaps will improve care delivery.
“Research like the physician survey helps us better understand what information they need the most so that we can focus our work accordingly,” concluded Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer of Surescripts.