Study: Most Americans Support E-Health Records - InformationWeek

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Study: Most Americans Support E-Health Records

A whopping 93% of respondents to an Accenture survey say they believe digital health records would improve quality of care, 92% say E-records would reduce treatment errors, 75% say electronic records would cut costs, and 78% say the new methods would reduce waiting times.

Most Americans think electronic health records can boost quality of heath care, reduce wait times, and cut costs, according to a new study released Wednesday by IT services and consulting firm Accenture.

The apparently overwhelming support by consumers for electronic health records was "shocking," says Lewis Redd, a partner in Accenture's provider practice. The online survey of 519 consumers was conducted in March but released now, about one month after Accenture completed its acquisition of the health practice of IT services firm Capgemini. Redd joined Accenture from Capgemini, where he also headed that company's health-provider practice.

"There's lots of groundswell in using IT in health care and delivering electronic health records," Redd says.

As consumers navigate through the health-care system and are asked to complete the same paper forms time and time again and witness doctors not having the patient's latest test results and other information, the need for electronic health records becomes apparent to them, Redd says.

The Accenture survey found that 93% of respondents believe digital health records would improve quality of care; 92% think E-records would reduce treatment errors in hospitals; 75% say the systems would overall reduce health costs; and 78% believe health IT would help shorten waiting times in doctor offices and hospitals.

Also, despite the recent flood of identity-theft and data-security incidents in the media, consumers responding to the Accenture survey were almost equally concerned about the security and privacy risks of digital health records as paper records.

Specifically, 54% of the respondents say they're concerned about the privacy and security of paper records, while 55% say they think E-records are more secure than paper ones.

In addition, 52% say they'd be willing to pay at least $5 a month to have their medical records stored digitally.

In addition to the support that's apparently growing among consumers for digital health records, support in Congress continued to build this week as well. On Wednesday, the bipartisan Wired For Health Care Quality Act of 2005 was introduced into the Senate by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; Mike Enzi, R-Pa.; Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; and Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

The legislation merges proposals that had been made in two separate health IT bills introduced in the Senate over the last two months by Clinton and Frist, and Kennedy and Enzi.

Among other proposals, the bill provides financial assistance to health-care providers that develop health IT systems such as electronic health records that meet technical and interoperability standards developed by a new private-public coalition.

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