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Patients aren’t stupid

Out of all the news I saw this week, some sad but mostly positive, one item really stood out for me, because it confirmed a growing sense of frustration around the whole deployment of digital health in this country.patients aren't stupid mhealth digital health

The item in question was a survey by YouGov for EMIS (a large EMR vendor in the UK) which found that:

  • 58% of patients are unaware that hospital doctors are often unable to access their primary care records (in fact 30% were ‘shocked’ by this)
  • 69% think this would reduce avoidable treatment errors
  • 85% want any healthcare professional treating them to have secure electronic access to key data

I think we can now say this is an ‘overwhelming case’. When we look at the usual excuses as to why electronic data sharing hasn’t been rolled out so far it comes back to ‘privacy concerns’. Well now it seems obvious that privacy is an important consideration, but patient safety, life or death, ranks rather higher in the hierarchy of needs.

We’re led to believe there is work going on in the UK to make a ‘summary care record’ available online to treating hospitals, but it really isn’t well-publicised, so we’re unclear as to the real progress. One has to retain the suspicion that we aren’t being told too much to prevent embarrassment. There’s a general election coming up in the UK and I think it’s a fundamental error to underestimate the intelligence of the electorate in this way.

As Chris Spencer, CEO of EMIS summed up, “Patients clearly want their records to be shared more effectively between medical professionals treating them. The technology exists to make this happen. Those of us operating across the healthcare landscape have a responsibility to make sure it does.”

I’ve written before that it’s ‘time to stop running from digital health’. No more excuses. Agreed?

Please let me have your thoughts or feel free to contact me.

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