In March, Carestream conducted a commissioned survey of U.S.-based medical patients measuring consumer attitudes toward patient portal technologies. I had the opportunity to discuss the results and their significance to the industry with Cristine Kao, Carestream Health’s marketing manager for global healthcare IT.
The study’s objective was to determine patient opinions about patient portal technology — of course more specifically to focus on Carestream’s MyVue imaging portal, however, the information that was gathered has universal appeal to the imaging world, as it discusses consumer attitudes toward imaging.
I asked Kao about the most significant findings of the study. “We looked at various industry information sources, and a couple of things were apparent; consumers want to understand more about their treatment, and are seeking more information,” she stated. “Patients are adopting technology in general, but we know very little as to what their experiences are with imaging. We wanted to know what patients are looking for in regards to imaging.”
Kao explained that they were testing a total of eight specific hypotheses. “One of the areas we wanted to find out more about was age — do older patients actually use technology? We found out that even if people weren’t IT-savvy, they would still see value in an online viewing system,” she stated. The study showed that more than 60 percent of respondents characterized themselves as having a moderate level of computer/Internet experience. Of the younger survey respondents ages 18-30, 90.4 percent profiled themselves as having advanced to moderate competence, compared to 76.6 percent of those 61-70. According to the study, “As younger generations mature and continue to incorporate new technologies into their daily lives, it should be expected that likelihood of use of a patient portal will increase across all age groups. Medical providers should take note of this.”
Patients also want to access their images online, as well as those of family members. However, the frequency of image-taking over the past five years has no significant bearing on interest in the use of a portal to access medical images. “They see value in accessing imaging information,” said Kao. “They want to manage their own family images.”
The study concludes that “with trends in today’s healthcare environment, such as increasing price transparency and expanding consumer orientation toward choices, combining with the continued infiltration of IT into the daily activities of patients and healthcare providers, a service-oriented online imaging portal can deliver significant value to those patients and their providers.”
This is where Stage 2 Meaningful Use could come into play. Although Stage 2 MU does not currently include imaging, it does indicate that
5 percent of patients within a hospital need to have access to information and have activity in that account. If this is included in the overall strategy, according to Kao, it shows that patients will likely use the patient portal services because they see the value. It is all part of the patient engagement strategy as we move forward into a new era.
Reference: 1 IDR Medical GmbH, www.idrmedical.com