90 Percent of Patients Want to Self-Manage Health Online: Accenture Survey

Patients want to access health information online and fill prescriptions electronically. But they also want face-to-face time with their doctor, a survey by Accenture revealed.

Patients are interested in accessing health information electronically, but they don't want to give up regular visits to the office, according to a recent survey by consulting firm Accenture.

For its Connected Health Pulse Survey, Accenture interviewed 1,110 U.S. patients between March 30 and April 4 to find out their preferences regarding digital health. It announced the results of its survey on June 20.

Accenture interviewed patients to see how they wanted to communicate with doctors. It also looked into how patients perceived electronic health records (EHRs), the company reported.

Of patients interviewed, 90 percent want to self-manage their personal medical data online, refill prescriptions electronically and book appointments on the Web, according to the report.

The survey also found that patients were interested in using their mobile devices to refill prescriptions. Mobile apps such as LowestMed allow consumers to compare drug prices at their local pharmacies.

Still, 85 percent of respondents preferred to see doctors in person when needed rather than relying on alternatives such as telehealth consultations.

These results show that patients simply want multiple options to access care, according to Dr. Kaveh Safavi, head of Accenture's North America health industry group.

"The survey shows that patients don't want an either/or scenario [regarding] in-person vs. online," Safavi told eWEEK in an email. "Instead, patients want access to more entry points into the health care system and the ability to customize options to address their specific needs."

Patients are increasingly seeking "anytime, anywhere" access to their personal medical data, said Safavi. "But they're not willing to give up the option of face time with their physicians."

Despite a large amount of respondents being interested in managing their health online, only 46 percent knew if they're data was already accessible online for tasks such as refilling prescriptions.

Meanwhile, patients were split on whether to let doctors manage their EHRs or maintain the information themselves. Patients are interested in accessing their own test results online in a personal health portal, said Safavi.

To manage their own health data, patients would need to use a service such as Microsoft HealthVault, which is available on mobile devices such as Windows Phone 7 and integrates with EHR applications like those from Greenway Technologies.

Patients are also interested in learning about their conditions by using online educational resources. These sites include Aetna's iTriage, WebMD and the National Library of Medicine's MedLinePlus.

Of patients surveyed, 72 percent want to be able to book appointments online.

Although patients prefer face time with doctors over virtual visits, they still want to be able to email with their doctors, according to Accenture. According to the survey, 88 percent of patients are interested in email reminders of appointments and 76 percent would like to consult with their physicians through email.

In addition, 74 percent want to be able to reach their doctor by phone.

As far as which device to use to connect with their data, 73 percent of patients preferred mobile devices.

"They appreciate the immediacy and convenience of digital resources, such as email and mobile devices, but still value in-person exchanges when needed," said Safavi.