5 reasons why healthcare's digital divide is growing

Black Book national panel poll of 2016 has been released evaluating consumer impressions on adoption of technology, as well as its effects on the healthcare industry as a whole. The survey revealed major patient concerns with technology and obstacles in healthcare facilities.

Containing feedback from 12,090 consumers, the survey found that 57 percent of patients do not trust the different kinds of health information technologies due to the reports of hacking and a preceived lack of information security. The survey also includes key findings on the reliability of analytics, physicians' opinions of technology and patient literacy.

Data breaches lead to consumer skepticism

Consumers are hesitant to share their information due to the many hacking reports and low security. The results on data security included:

  • 87 percent of patients are unwilling to share their information, a jump from 66 percent in 2013.
  • The main concerns of patients are their pharmacy prescriptions (90 percent), mental health notes (99 percent) and chronic condition (81 percent) data.
  • 70 percent of patients distrust health technology, an increase from only 10 percent in 2014.
  • 89 percent of patients report not giving all of their information due to lack of trust in security.
  • 93 percent have concerns on the safety of their financial information.
  • 69 percent of patients believe their primary care physician does not understand health IT enough to give all their personal information.

Patient records hinder the reliability of analytics

Patients are becoming a bigger part in their own healthcare and are demanding greater access to information, while providers are pressured to limit costs. As payment models focus more on to value, hospitals and physicians are not taking necessary steps to improve IT performance. Results showed:

  • Patients felt that the more technology the physicians is perceived of using to manage healthcare, the most trustworthy they felt toward their provider.
  • 84 percent of patients said their trust in their providers depends on how the providers use technology.
  • Only 5 percent of consumers only distrust the technology being used.

Nurses can be understaffed, overworked

Nurses who are understaffed and overworked can hinder patient care after discharge. Comparing hospitals with under 200 beds to hospitals with more than 300 showed the following results:

  • Patients discharged form under 200 bed hospitals report having difficulty with patient portals, engagement tools and monitoring systems.
  • The larger hospitals had the most success with patient technology satisfaction and usability.
  • 92 percent of patients had difficulty understanding instructions on how to use technology applications.
  • 92 percent of nurse leaders in under 200 bed hospitals report there is no time set aside to improve patient’s tech literacy, compared to only 55 percent percent by over 300 bed hospitals.

Physicians opinion on incoming technologies

As the primary users of healthcare technology, physicians can pinpoints issues to optimize care. The survey also asked how patients perceive physicians use of technology. Results showed the following:

  • 94 percent of physicians find the amount of data overwhelming and unlikely to make a difference in a clinical setting.
  • 91 percent of consumers with wearable devices believe that physicians should store any health data they request.
  • 94 percent of those with wearable health trackers reported their physicians informing them they had no interest in putting information into the electronic health records (EHRs).
  • 96 percent of patients leaving the physician’s office believe they did not receive proper instruction for using patient portals.
  • Four in 10 patients attempted to use patient portals but 83 percent could not navigate the page.
  • 85 percent of physicians reported that EHRs made patient care more impersonal.

Patient technology illiteracy

Patients with a high health literacy are the most hesitant in trusting healthcare IT due to lack of cyber security. A large majority of healthcare providers recommend government funded programs to improve health technology literacy training to patients, software developers should address a wider targeted patient population, according the the survey.