How to Get Patients to Share Electronic Health Data

Worldwide, more and more healthcare practices are embracing technology and transitioning to telehealth. Telehealth is instrumental in the healthcare industry, closing the gap between patients and access to convenient and seamless care. But, while telehealth is profoundly popular with providers, some providers fear that patients will be hesitant to make the switch. 

Some fear that sharing their health data electronically could introduce it to risks of cybersecurity hacks and breaches. While a fair argument, these same people utilize electronic banking platforms to file taxes and manage their bank accounts, so what’s the difference? For providers looking to adopt telehealth solutions, getting patients to share their electronic health data confidently is the first step. 


Why are Patients Hesitant? 


Healthcare providers are experiencing the tremendous benefits of telehealth solutions and are eager to share them with their patients. With telehealth, providers and patients obtain access to healthcare like never before. Patients can meet with their providers remotely, in addition to having access to the information and resources they need from any location. That being said, many practices are concerned that patients will not share their electronic health data, leaving their telehealth platforms idle. 

One reason for this concern is that patients will not want to share their health data on an electronic platform. While this may be true for older generations, most patients under 40 are eager to embrace digital healthcare. Today, many of our daily functions are operated digitally, allowing us to access and utilize them more easily. Online banking, for example, is extremely popular, enabling users to conveniently manage their finances from their phones. While an individual's personal finances are arguably the most sensitive data they possess, users openly trust their bank’s online platform. 

With this in mind, most patients are not concerned about the security of their healthcare provider’s telehealth platform. Patients are eager to save themselves the commute from the doctor’s office while also obtaining the care and resources they need from a convenient digital portal. In fact, most patients want their providers to offer digital healthcare capabilities so that they can more easily access their health data. So, what is the problem? 

A significant contributor to patients’ lack of participation in sharing electronic health data may be a lack of awareness. According to one study, 63% of patients who viewed their medical records digitally were encouraged to do so by their providers, but only 38% of patients took the initiative on their own. Some patients may not even be aware that their providers offer electronic health tools. Patients are happy to utilize telehealth solutions, but it may take some encouragement from their providers. As such, it is up to healthcare providers to encourage their patients to embrace telehealth tools, and here are some tips on how. 


Encouraging the Transition to Digital


Raise Awareness


One of the best ways to encourage patients to share their electronic health data is by raising awareness. As a provider, inform your patients that your practice has adopted a telehealth platform and discuss how patients will benefit from it. Providing patients with the tools to set up an account and upload their health data can go a long way in diminishing any hesitation about doing it themselves. This is especially beneficial with older patients who may not be familiar with such platforms. 

Additionally, if you are the one informing patients of the benefits of sharing health data electronically, you can eliminate any concerns or misconceptions. Allowing patients to ask questions can serve as an excellent opportunity to teach them about benefits such as data protection, convenience, cost savings, and improved accuracy in treatment. 

If patients are left to their own devices regarding electronic health data, they may not know you have a platform or not feel the need to use it. In promoting telehealth solutions, your patients can better understand the value of it and see that it is a tool worth adopting. Simply by raising awareness and informing patients of the benefits of electronic health data, you can drastically increase patient participation. 


Prioritize Security


Hand-in-hand with raising awareness of electronic health data sharing, it is vital that you prioritize data and device security. While many patients are familiar and trusting of online data-sharing platforms such as online banking, medical data is highly private and sensitive - and should be treated as such. 

The telehealth tools you use should demonstrate data security in every sense. Requiring strong passwords and dual-factor authentication will not only help to protect data but also demonstrate to patients that their data is safe. It is also important to share security protocols with patients, letting them know how much you prioritize protecting their data. Not only will this improve security, but it will also calm any concerns about the risks of sharing health data electronically. 


Convenience and Accessibility


The two most significant benefits of electronic health data are convenience and accessibility. In sharing data electronically, both patients and providers can more quickly and efficiently upload, share, and view health data. As a result, diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatments can be provided faster and more accurately. 

As if this were not enough, most telehealth platforms are supported by mobile applications, improving accessibility further. By offering mobile telehealth solutions, patients can share and access their electronic health data from any location, offering even more convenience. The more convenient their healthcare platform is, the more inclined patients will be to use it, so offering mobile device compatibility is a must-have. 


Lead by Example


Finally, one of the most efficient ways of encouraging anything is to lead by example. As a healthcare provider, embracing telehealth solutions such as electronic health data will demonstrate to your patients that it is a tool worthy of their attention. An excellent way providers can lead patients in the transition to electronic healthcare is by utilizing the platform they are trying to encourage. 

If patients see that their providers are accessing health data via their telehealth platform, rather than a physical folder, they can directly witness how convenient and user-friendly it is. Alternatively, if patients do not see their providers using the tools they are trying to encourage, they will not see the benefit in using it themselves. 

Slowly transitioning your practice to electronic healthcare can help ease the switch. Recommending that patients with simple visits such as an annual physical or a prescription refill meet via a virtual visit, rather than in-person, can be a simple yet effective introduction to telehealth solutions. 


Embracing Electronic Health Data


The bottom line is that patients want to utilize telehealth solutions. The majority of patients understand the benefits of sharing their health data electronically; they just don’t know that it is an option. As a provider, it is your responsibility to recognize this demand to meet the needs of your patients. With the right amount of encouragement and awareness, providers can help transition their patients into the world of digital healthcare. As a result, both patients and providers will experience enhanced convenience and accessibility to health data, optimizing the healthcare industry and patient care.


Interested in learning more about telehealth? Contact one of our team members!


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About the author - Alexandru Artimon

Co-founder of Medicai. Over 15 years of experience with deep expertise in enterprise healthcare systems software architecture. Graduated Computer Sciences, also has a Masters degree in parallel computing and cloud computing. Alex writes about developing large-scale enterprise applications using state-of-the-art software technologies in healthcare.