ONC Infographic Aims to Help Patients Understand Benefits of EHRs

December 20, 2012 02:20 pm News Staff

Family physicians increasingly are incorporating health information technology, particularly electronic health records (EHRs), into their medical practices. But their patients may not understand the benefits that health IT brings to health care.

[Woman in lounge chair with laptop]

To help patients get onboard with what health IT has to offer, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has created an EHR infographic(www.healthit.gov) designed specifically for health care consumers.

The online document walks patients through the timeline of EHR development and explains the benefits of moving from a paper-based system to one that relies on the electronic exchange of information between physicians, other health care professionals, patients, pharmacies and hospitals.

The document is filled with facts and figures. For example, according to the infographic,

  • physicians' use of EHRs increased from 18 percent in 2001 to 57 percent in 2011,
  • two out of three patients would consider switching to a physician who offers access to medical records through a secure Internet connection,
  • 80 percent of Americans who have access to their health information via an EHR view and use that information,
  • 65 percent of Americans without electronic access to their medical records say having such access is important, and
  • 17 million consumers used electronic tools and mobile devices in 2011 to access health information.

According to the ONC, people who are more engaged in their health -- in part by seeking out information on how to stay healthy -- receive better overall health care. For example, 27 percent of adults who use the Internet have gone online to find information on how to maintain a healthy weight, plan a healthy diet, incorporate exercise into their lives, track health indicators, and understand the cause of medical symptoms they may be experiencing.

The information displayed in the ONC infographic explains to consumers that the development of health IT means patients

  • spend less time filling out health care-related paperwork,
  • experience enhanced care coordination among their health care providers, and
  • have prescriptions filled faster and more accurately.

The overall message from the ONC to consumers is that EHRs are a positive development in health care that give patients greater control when it comes to maintaining their own health.

The ONC encourages all physicians to share the Web link or the information contained in the infographic with their patients.