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Patients reveal willingness to trade hands-on medical care for computer consultations
Date:5/18/2009

BOSTON -- As President Barack Obama calls for streamlining heath care by fully converting to electronic medical records and as Congress prepares to debate issues of patient privacy, one question has largely gone unasked: What do patients want?

A qualitative study led by a research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) helps answer that question. Reported in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM), the findings provide key insights into consumer preferences, suggesting that patients want full access to all of their medical records, are willing to make some privacy concessions in the interest of making their medical records completely transparent, and that, going forward, fully expect that computers will play a major role in their medical care, even substituting for face-to-face doctor visits.

"We set out to study patient attitudes toward electronic personal health records and other emerging and future electronic health information technologies," explains the study's lead author Jan Walker, RN, MBA, Instructor in Medicine in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School. "And we learned that, for the most part, patients are very comfortable with the idea of computers playing a central role in their care." In fact, she adds, patients said they not only want computers to bring them customized medical information, they fully expect that in the future they will be able to rely on electronic technology for many routine medical issues.

"Patients know how busy their doctors are and they want to reserve us for what they really need us for treating serious illness and conditions," adds senior author Tom Delbanco, MD, the Richard and Florence Koplow-James Tullis Professor of General Medicine and Primary Care at Harvard Medical School and BIDMC. "They may be more than happy to rely on computer protocols and 'faceless doctors' to help them manage garden-v
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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