The Public and Doctors Overwhelmingly Agree on Health IT Priorities to Improve Patient Care

January 31, 2011 | Brief
Markle Health in a Networked Life
Markle

The Markle survey found that majorities of the US public and doctors share many of the same hopes for advancing health through information technology (IT). Responding to parallel surveys at a time when significant health care policy changes were being debated and implemented, the public and doctors overwhelmingly agree on key requirements for information technology to increase the quality, safety, and cost-efficiency of care, as well as core privacy protections.

As billions of dollars in new federal funds become available to encourage use of health IT, this survey indicates that the general public and physician populations share similar values on making sure the money will be well spent. These findings are a powerful indication that both groups want public investments in IT to come with accountability and privacy protections, and lead to improvements in health.

Key Findings

  • Many doctors and patients surveyed believe key information is lost in their health care conversations.
  • A majority of the doctors surveyed indicate a preference for modern communications tools. Three in four doctors say they want to be able to share patient information with other professionals electronically. Roughly half prefer computer-based means to share information with their patients.
  • A clear majority of the public and doctors agree that patients ought to be able to download their personal health information online and share information electronically with doctors.
  • Roughly 80 percent majorities of both the public and doctors agree it is important to require participating hospitals and doctors to share information to better coordinate care, cut unnecessary costs, and reduce medical errors.
  • Majorities of both groups also agree on the importance of measuring progress and setting goals for improving the nation’s health in chronic problems such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Roughly 4 in 5 of both groups express the importance of privacy protections as a requirement to ensure that public investment in health IT will be well spent.
  • The public and doctors overwhelmingly support privacy-protective practices, such as letting people see who has accessed their records, notifying people affected by information breaches, and giving people mechanisms to exercise choice and request corrections.
  • The public and doctors are largely unfamiliar with the details of the new health IT incentives, suggesting that education and outreach will be vital to the success of the program.