To truly demonstrate value, providers must gain patient trust

Leaders in imaging, and all other healthcare specialties, should pay close attention to survey results published by Black Book Market Research earlier this month. The numbers raise red flags about the current state of technology in healthcare, and there are some important lessons to be learned.

For example, Black Book’s survey—which was conducted in late 2016 and included more than 12,000 respondents—revealed that 57 percent of healthcare consumers were skeptical of the overall benefits of technologies such as patient portals and electronic health records (EHRs). A significant source of this distrust comes from perceived security issues, and considering how common data breaches are become in this country, it’s hard to blame patients for feeling that way.

To be sure, this presents imaging leaders with a significant problem: the goal right now is to track outcomes and demonstrate true value, but if you can’t get patients on board, it gets a whole lot harder to get the most out of your patient-centered plans and technologies. Sure, your hospital may have just pumped a lot of money into a state-of-the-art EHR, but if patients think twice before trusting the technology, you’ll never realize that EHR’s true potential.

This skepticism can also have a negative impact on the quality of a radiologist’s reads. Skeptical patients are much less likely to provide every last detail of their medical history, and the information they leave out might just be what a radiologist needs to recommend the proper treatment.

The Black Book survey also revealed that 83 percent of patients who attempted to access their portal “found it difficult to navigate when at home” and 96 (!) percent of physician office patients said instructions on how to use the portal were “poorly communicated or miscommunicated.”

Math was never my strongest subject, but even I can tell those numbers are way too high. You’re telling me that patients are already skeptical, but when they do give the patient portal a shot, they’re met with a wheelbarrow full of confusion? That’s not good, and providers must do better.

Remember these results during your next planning session, industry leaders. Your goals can be achieved, but patients must be on board. You don’t want to lose their trust and you don’t want to confuse them— you want them to feel as if everything is under control and they’re receiving the best care possible.