Access to information for patients and their family members is one of the most important steps in the transformation of the U.S. healthcare system. Increasingly patients want access to information about their own healthcare.
There may have been a time when individuals passively accepted the physician’s treatment plan but that is no longer the case.
Yesterday, Navigating Cancer published the results of a recent survey of 295 cancer patients which asked about different ways they might engage in their own care plan. The survey found that 72% of the people who were asked were “interested in using personalized tools and resources to manage their care.” Seventy seven percent wanted access to online educational materials and 74% wanted online access to their medical records.
It is clear to me as a healthcare leader and as a healthcare consumer that we have shifted away from the passive patient era into an era of actively engaged patients. Patients want access to not only educational materials but also their own health and medical records online so they can review that information when it is convenient to them. They want to avoid the hoops of going the hospital’s Medical Records office and being charged 10 cents a page to have their medical records printed out. And others want access to their medical record while they are receiving care. They don’t want this so they can catch the provider or the organization making a mistake; they want it so they can engage in their own care.
Patient-centered care, one of the core values of Occupy Healthcare, means putting the patient and their family in the driver’s seat for care and treatment. Patients cannot make informed decisions and actively engage if they don’t have access to real time medical information. This means that healthcare providers and organizations must step into the 21st century and, like it or not, engage with the patient by providing access to their health information and educational materials.