Patients’ expectations outpacing hospital IT adoptions: survey

Hospital patients don’t merely dislike dealing with paperwork. When filling out forms seems to slow the delivery of their care, even when hospital staff or clinicians wield the pen and clipboard, patients react viscerally.

That’s according to a Harris poll of 2,053 American adults commissioned by Ricoh, the Tokyo-based document-management company. Almost half the respondents had an inpatient or outpatient experience in the past five years. The company spotlighted the findings at HIMSS15 in April.

Weighting scores to make them proportionate to the U.S. population by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income, the Harris people found:

  • 79% of U.S. hospital patients feel more connected to healthcare providers who don’t spend a lot of time on paperwork during visits;
  • 77% sense that hospitals are drowning in paperwork, cutting into the time healthcare workers are able to spend with patients;
  • 74% believe hospitals that use tablets or other mobile devices to collect information from patients are more efficient than those that don’t; and
  • 60% would rather search treatments on the Internet for non-life threatening medical issues than deal with hospital paperwork to see a healthcare professional.

Meanwhile more than 9 in 10 respondents said they support hospitals spending money on technology to allow healthcare workers to spend more time with patients, and more than 8 in 10 said they believe information technology makes hospital visits more efficient.

There’s even “an emotional dimension” to the use of newer technology in hospitals, reported Ricoh in a release. More than half the respondents, 54%, said they experience less anxiety when hospital care workers use tablets or other mobile devices to collect information.

According to Ricoh, these numbers add up to the need for hospitals to do a whole lot of catching up on things like electronic chart scanning, information-management workflow and secure prescription printing.

“For whatever reason, hospitals seem to lag behind other business segments in the ability of clinicians and staff to access the information they need when they need it,” stated Ron Nielson, a VP in Ricoh America’s healthcare division.

Ricoh said the focus of the survey was information mobility in American hospitals. This it defined as “the ability to efficiently move information among clinical and administrative workers regardless of whether it’s paper-based or digital.”