Topol on Physician and Patient Attitudes Toward New Technology


October 03, 2016

Two years ago Medscape did a survey of physicians, healthcare providers, and consumers to gauge relative acceptance of new technologies and attitudes toward medical information sharing. We also published that survey in a peer-reviewed journal.[1] Now we've gone back again to a similar number of respondents in both groups (1423 healthcare providers, of whom 847 are physicians, and 1103 consumers) to ask some of the same questions as well as several new ones. Notably, most medical surveys only target physicians or patients, so these efforts to query both groups with the same questions are uncommon.

The results are indeed interesting and overall demonstrate the desire for consumers to become more autonomous, reflected by their keen interest in self-diagnosis, owning their medical records, seeing all of their lab data immediately, and having full access to physicians' office notes. These questions each had a markedly different response from physicians.

Despite the interest among consumers to take charge of their care through the use of technology, a very small proportion use patient portals frequently or have used telemedicine to date. An interesting trend over this 2-year period was consumers' decreased concern regarding privacy and security of their medical data. Some of the reasons for this lack of engagement were explored by the survey.

Clearly we are in the midst of some extraordinary changes in medicine, and 2 years is only a brief amount of time to reassess the impact of technology. But the consistent consumer interest in taking charge and being a partner in their care process is notable and likely will be actualized more in the future. As medical data become eminently portable and increasingly generated by patients, data control and ownership issues will command more attention.

We will continue to assess these important trends in healthcare and hope that you find the latest survey of interest.

Eric Topol, MD
Editor-in-Chief, Medscape


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