Hospitals or Health Plans: Who Do You Trust to “Connect” You with Your Health Records?

Over the past decade, I’ve seen a number of studies asking people whom they trust among various health care stakeholders. Nurses, pharmacists, and doctors always come out at the top.  Beyond that:

  • Trust of hospitals tends to be high (60–80%)
  • Trust of health plans is at the bottom of the heap (10–20%)

Is this written in stone for the future? I don’t think so…and the dynamics for change are in motion.  Please read on.

Here’s the emerging picture I’m seeing:

  • Hospitals are dragging their feet in connecting you with your electronic health information.
  • Health plans are highly motivated to connect you with your health information.

Hospitals Keeping You from Your Health Records

Yesterday the American Hospital Association released a 68 page letter commenting on proposed regs for Meaningful Use Stage 2. Putting aside my usual analytic tendencies, I’ll simply describe the letter as whiny, snivelly, “can’t do”, mean, and thick-headed.

The lightening rod issue is around patient access to EHR information:

As proposed, Stage 2 MU rules put many requirements on hospitals to provide patients with electronic access to much of their health record within 36 hours

The AHA advocates that the standard for providing patients with electronic data should remain the current 30 day period specified in HIPAA

I have not seen a single commentary that is “fer” the AHA POV.

…but there are many who are “agin” the AHA POV:

e-Patient Dave, “American Hospital Association declares war on patient empowerment. Please act.” (start here for a great overview)

Regina Holiday “Lives not Livelihoods in Meaningful Use”

Lodewijk Bos, International Council on Medical and Care Compunetics,  “AHA-Erlebnis”

Deven McGraw, Center for Democracy and Technology, “Hospital Association Fights Digital Access for Patients”

Christine Bechtel, National Partnership for Women and Families, “Don’t Let Them Destroy Patient Protections in Health IT!”

If hospitals were truly interested in advancing accountable care, they would be leaders — not laggards — in connecting YOU with your health records.

Health Plans Connecting You with Your Health Information

Last summer the Boston Consulting Group reported on a survey of 120 health insurance executives. One of the most significant findings was health plan recognition of the need to become more retail oriented and improve the customer experience.

This week another survey of 100 health plan executives sheds more light:

With all the talk about the vaunted triple aim of healthcare: better care, better health, and lower cost, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that health plans tapped improving the customer experience as their top priority for 2012….

The survey indicates that member portals and e-commerce are among the big ideas where payers plan to invest to improve the consumer experience. Embracing multi-channel commerce, mobility, and social media are also on payers’ agendas.

Shifting Trust?

Please don’t take my commentary as anti-hospital or pro health plan. I’ve worked on both sides of the fence.

Economic incentives are shifting. This week the hospitals really blew it in gaining patient trust. Health plans (finally) are working to dig themselves out of a deep hole with patient trust.

…and this could have a dramatic impact on who we trust to act in our best interests.

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