July 02, 2013

Electronic Health Records Result in Reduced Medical Errors For Australian Doctors, Accenture Survey Finds

SYDNEY, Australia; July 2, 2013 – The majority of Australian doctors (77 per cent) say sharing health records electronically had a positive impact on reducing medical errors in 2012, according to a survey by Accenture (NYSE:ACN). The survey of 3,700 doctors in eight countries – Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States – also found that 83 per cent of Australian doctors are actively using electronic medical records (EMR) and roughly 70 per cent reported improved quality of diagnostic and treatment decisions as a result of their use of shared electronic health records.

Patient Access to Records
Accenture’s survey revealed most Australian doctors (83 per cent) want patients to actively participate in their own healthcare by updating their electronic health records (EHR). However, the majority believe that patients should only have limited access to this record – a view shared across the surveyed countries. There was broad agreement among Australian doctors that patients should be able to update standard information in their health records, including demographics (87 per cent) and family medical history (78 per cent). However, a significant proportion of doctors were opposed to patients providing updates in areas such as medications (29 per cent), medication side effects (28 per cent), allergic episodes (26 per cent) and lab test results (59 per cent). The level of opposition to such patient input was notably higher than most other countries.

“Australian doctors are increasingly embracing electronic medical records to improve the quality of care provided and clinical outcomes,” said Leigh Donoghue, managing director of Accenture’s health business in Australia and New Zealand. “This is in line with the most advanced healthcare systems. However, there is clearly more to be done in terms of enabling consumers to play an active role in their own care. This requires a shift in the way clinicians think and interact with patients, harnessing new technologies such as electronic health records and mobile devices. From the survey, this seems to be happening faster in other countries.”

Less than a quarter of doctors (18 per cent) believe that a patient should have full access to his or her own record, 65 per cent believe patients should have limited access and 16 per cent say they should have no access. Australia ranked second highest of the eight countries surveyed in the proportion of doctors that say patients should have no access to their record.

“The shift to patient-centered care has long been talked about, but we’re now entering a new stage with the rise of the digital citizen and availability of electronic health records. The combination of smartphones, faster broadband, mobile access to the PCEHR system, and a growing array of mobile health applications will trigger fresh demands from consumers for more active participation in managing their own care. To meet changing consumer expectations, Australian doctor’s views on patient access will need to evolve.”

“It’s difficult to predict how quickly this shift will happen or where it will lead, but it looks unlikely to happen in a way that doctors and administrators have fully anticipated or feel comfortable with,” Mr Donoghue added.

Doctors Access to Records
Underlining the growing importance of electronic health records, there has been a 62 per cent increase since 2011 in the number of Australian doctors who said they routinely access electronic clinical data about patients previously seen by a different health organisation. The increase in the use of electronic health record systems among Australian doctors was second only to the increased usage by doctors in Germany, who reported a 77 per cent increase. Australian doctors have also increased their routine use of other IT capabilities, including: receiving patients’ clinical results electronically (67 per cent), entering patient notes during or after consultations (64 per cent) and receiving electronic alerts/reminders while seeing patients (44 per cent).

Surprisingly, only 5 per cent of doctors in Australia routinely communicate electronically with patients. However Australian doctors expect accessibility to patient clinical records to increase to 76 per cent over the next two years, which is in line with their global counterparts.

Accenture’s research findings are included in the Australia country profile and in a summary report, The Digital Doctor is In.

On behalf of Accenture, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of 3,700 physicians across eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States. The survey included 500 doctors per country (500 from Australia) and assessed their adoption, utilisation and attitudes toward healthcare IT. The research was conducted between November and December 2012. The analysis provided comparisons by country, sector, age and use. The margin of error for the eight study countries in total is +/- 1.5 per cent.

Learn more about Accenture’s Insight Driven Health, Accenture Connected Health Services and Delivering Public Service for the Future.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 266,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

Accenture Connected Health Services
Through Accenture Connected Health Services we help health systems improve collaboration and decision-making, while lowering costs, by delivering healthcare IT solutions that enable patient-centred care and improve operating models. Our services combine extensive business and clinical practices with a full range of healthcare IT capabilities, including health information exchanges, electronic health records, health analytics, mobility and cloud-hosted platforms.

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