“Healthcare will need to adapt to a new generation of individuals who are taking a more proactive role in managing their health and expect to have transparency”.
“As consumers continue to demand more access to their personal data online, we expect that patients will gain more power to manage some aspects of their own care. This will not only make healthcare more effective but also more affordable, as consumers doing more for themselves will free up the system to be more productive.”
Kaveh Safavi M.D. J.D. leader of Accenture’s global health business.
The healthcare system is very peculiar not only for its delicate object, but also as it presents some problematic characteristics, such as adverse selection, moral hazard, asymmetric information, monopoly, ethical concerns, and agency. These intrinsic properties of the health system are very difficult to manage and they need to be taken into account when developing a system capable of providing a coherent and high-quality health service delivery. For instance, when the doctor has relevant information that the patient lacks, markets fail to operate efficiently. However, information can be conveyed across an exchange relationship between the two only at some cost in terms of time, effort and resources. Moreover, the health sector needs to strive for efficiency and effectiveness on the one hand, but it also needs to deal with individuals’ sensitivity, humanity and vulnerability on the other. Indeed, while the consumer is not capable of evaluating appropriately the characteristics and therefore the quality of the care service that he/she is acquiring, healthcare mistakes are often irreversible and very costly.
In the digital age, people ask more and more for transparent, innovative, convenient and personalized services and they also aim to cooperate to the process of creation and supply of the service. In other words, they aim to adopt a more proactive role in managing sensitive aspects of their care, preferring to feel part of the process rather than being passive recipient of the service.
A new survey by Accenture supports this result, showing that 69 percent of U.S. consumers with chronic health conditions believe patients should have the right to access all of their healthcare information, and 51 percent believe that accessing their medical records online (EMR) outweighs the privacy risks.
The Electronic Medical Record is the storage of all health data and information in electronic formats with the associated information processing and knowledge support tools necessary for the managing of the health enterprise system. This patient-specific computer-generated data is believed to reduce physicians errors in the detection of life threatening events.
Even if privacy protection is a major issue in the digital era, consumers seem to be slightly less concerned about the privacy of their electronic medical record than they were about other personal information that is stored digitally, such as online banking, in-store credit card use and online shopping.
This is clearly a relevant result as, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, around 47 percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease – asthma, arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, clinically diagnosed obesity, osteoporosis and stroke – and they account for 76 percent of all physician visits.