Study: Letting patients set visit agendas in EHRs improves physician-patient encounter

Dive Brief:

  • Enabling patients to type their visit agendas into the electronic health record systems (EHRs) before an appointment may improve care by engaging patients and helping physicians prioritize patients’ concerns, a study in the latest issue of Annals of Family Medicine concludes.
  • Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts conducted a pilot study to see if this was feasible, useful and acceptable to patients and providers.
  • The sample was relatively small (101 patients and 28 clinicians), but most patients (79%) and clinicians (74%) felt it enhanced their relationship, and most patients (73%) and clinicians (82%) also said they would like to continue the practice.

Dive Insight:

Complaints about inadequate visit time and administrative overload due to EHRs are not new. Physicians spend roughly half their workdays on EHR and other administrative tasks, according to a 2016 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Anything that might alleviate that stress and reduce clinician burnout could benefit both providers and patients.

Providers are actively looking for solutions, too. A recent survey of healthcare leaders by Nuance Communications found that a majority plan to adopt additional technologies to enhance the use of EHRs and reduce burnout.

“This pilot study suggests a possible way for the EMR to offset the time and computer barriers to communication,” the study’s authors write. “By allowing patients to set agendas before appointments, patients and clinicians can optimize their time together.” Moreover, having patients propose their own visit agendas could give the clinical encounter a more collaborative feel and increase patient engagement—a key component of accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes under the ACA, the study says.

The study reflects recent surveys that show patients are eager to engage more with their healthcare through patient portals and EHRs. A survey by CDW Healthcare, for example, found 89% of patients would like to be able to more easily access their personal health records. Among providers in that survey, 71% said improving patient engagement is a top priority and 80% are striving to make it easier for patients to access their information.

Filed Under: Health IT Practice Management
Top image credit: Depositphotos