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Deloitte Survey Finds Healthy Consumer Demand For Electronic Health Records, Online Tools and Services
Date:4/6/2009

Privacy and Security of Personal Health Information Still Major Concern

CHICAGO, April 6 /PRNewswire/ -- As health care providers determine how they will take advantage of the $19 billion allocated in the stimulus package to help jumpstart advances in health information technology (HIT), consumer appetite for electronic health records (EHRs), online tools and services is also growing, according to the results of the 2009 Deloitte Survey of Health Care Consumers (www.deloitte.com/us/2009consumersurvey).

While only 9 percent of consumers surveyed have an electronic personal health record (PHR), 42 percent are interested in establishing PHRs connected online to their physicians. Fifty-five percent want the ability to communicate with their doctor via email to exchange health information and get answers to questions. Fifty-seven percent reported they'd be interested in scheduling appointments, buying prescriptions and completing other transactions online if their information is protected. Technologies that can facilitate consumer transactions with providers and health plans, like integrated billing systems that make bill payment faster and more convenient, are also appealing to nearly half (47 percent) of consumers surveyed.

The survey of more than 4,000 U.S. consumers 18 and over was released today at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference held in Chicago. It is the second annual study examining health care consumers' attitudes, behaviors and unmet needs conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions offering health care industry leaders and policymakers a timely look at how health care consumerism is evolving.

"Consumers are increasingly embracing innovations that enhance self-care, convenience, personalization and control of personal health information," said Paul H. Keckley, Ph.D., executive director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. "Consumers want a bigger say in their health care decisions. Consumer demand for HIT and its potential impact on reforming the system has never been stronger."

Despite strong consumer demand, many are still reluctant about privacy and security of their medical information. Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) of consumers surveyed are very concerned about the privacy and security of personal health information. Another 24 percent said they had no reservations about it; interestingly, women over the age of 65 and men between the ages of 18 to 24 were least risk-averse to sharing personal health information online. Women are also more likely than men to seek online access to doctors, medical records and tools. They are also more interested in using secure websites and slightly more trusting of the information they locate about care and treatment through independent health-related websites, the study revealed.

"Information technologies that support consumers in becoming more informed decision-makers and purchasers of health care resources, and facilitate transactions in ways that improve efficiency and lower costs, have tremendous potential to improve our health care system," said Russ Rudish, vice chairman and U.S. industry leader of Deloitte LLP's Health Care Provider industry group. "We have developed tools and services to help our clients navigate vendor selection and plan for implementations. This also requires helping to ensure proper certification criteria are met and necessary requirements are fulfilled to qualify for stimulus package grants."

Additional findings from the survey:

  • Six in 10 endorse government establishment of standards for how medical information is collected, stored and exchanged.
  • Four in 10 (42 percent) favor increasing government funding and incentives to support the adoption of electronic medical records by doctors, hospitals and health plans (2 in 10 oppose). Support is highest among Gen Y (44 percent); Gen X (43 percent); and seniors (43 percent).
  • Sixty-eight percent are interested in home or remote monitoring devices that permit them to monitor their conditions and electronically report it to their physicians; interest is particularly high among seniors (78 percent) and those with chronic conditions (75 percent).
  • Thirty percent of prescription medication users say they purchased medications online or through mail order in the previous 12 months; Medicaid enrollees were the most likely to report this (37 percent).
  • Forty-one percent of all consumers say they'd be likely to order medications online or by mail order if they were to develop a health condition that required regular medication.

According to additional Deloitte analysis, "Reducing Costs While Improving the U.S. Health Care System: The Health Care Reform Pyramid" (www.deloitte.com/us/healthreformpyramid), the investment of $50 billion for HIT over five years, to which the administration has pledged $19 billion in the stimulus package, has the potential to achieve net-present-value (NPV) savings as high as $90 billion over 10 years. The advantages of personalized medicine in tandem with comparative effectiveness and HIT could achieve NPV savings as high as $140 billion over 10 years.

"Hospital executives will need to work side by side with their physicians to kick the tires on selecting a system's clinical knowledge management tools and exploring how algorithms are designed, how patient values are incorporated and interpreted into prompts to doctors and nurses," added Rudish. "Ultimately, it's the clinical processes - diagnoses and treatments - where the ROI for EHRs will be achieved - or not. This will depend on how well clinicians engage using EHRs as tools to improve the delivery of patient care."

Methodology

A nationally representative sample of 4,001 American adults, ages 18 and older, was surveyed between October 2 and 10, 2008, using a web-based questionnaire. The results were weighted to assure proper proportional representation to the nation's population, as reflected in the U.S. Census, with respect to age, gender, income, race/ethnicity and geography. The margin of error around the U.S. point estimates is +/- 1.6 percent at the .95 confidence level.

Related Content:

Report: 2009 Survey for Health Care Consumers (www.deloitte.com/us/2009consumersurvey)

Overview: Deloitte Center for Health Solutions (www.deloitte.com/us/healthsolutions)

Overview: Deloitte's Involvement at HIMSS (www.deloitte.com/us/HIMSS09)

Profile: Paul Keckley, Ph.D (www.deloitte.com/us/paulkeckley)

Profile: Russ Rudish (www.deloitte.com/us/russrudish)

About the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is part of Deloitte LLP. For more on the Center and its work, see www.deloitte.com/us/healthsolutions.

About Deloitte

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP and Deloitte Services LP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

    CONTACT:    Marykate Reese                Sean Leous
                Public Relations              Public Relations
                Deloitte                      Hill & Knowlton
                +1 203 257 0452               +1 212 885 0549
                mareese@deloitte.com          Sean.leous@hillandknowlton.com


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