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Most patients want access to their medical images

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | July 10, 2013
Courtesy of Carestream
A new survey finds that patients are eager to use web portals to download and share medical images and radiology reports with their physicians — a tool that could be valuable not just to patients, but for radiologists as well.

Web portals, or patient portals, are also tools the government is pushing providers to adopt. Last September, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology stipulated that patient engagement via a patient portal was a requirement under meaningful use stage 2 requirements, which give providers incentives for adopting electronic health records.

In the clinical space, patient portals, which allow consumers to access their personal health information via a secure online website, have mainly been used by consumers for scheduling appointments, paying bills or viewing lab results. The new survey, conducted by the health care marketing firm IDR Medical and commissioned by Carestream, indicated that 85 percent of respondents would like to have internet-based access to their medical images and reports to share with other physicians, and a more convenient way to access and store their records and their children's records.

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"Yes, you go online and pay bills and all that makes sense, but the question remaining for us was 'what does that mean for imaging?'" Cristine Kao, Carestream's global marketing director for Healthcare Information Solutions, told DOTmed News.

The survey found that providing patients with secure and easy access to their imaging results also impacts both satisfaction and the patient's willingness to return to the facility. Seventy-nine percent of patients felt that if they had access to their images they would be more likely to return, and 76 percent indicated they would recommend the imaging facility to a friend, according to the report.

"Usually 50-60 percent out of the 100 is high brand loyalty. The fact that we saw almost 80 percent showed there is a patient demand and need that we can help address," said Kao. Carestream's MyVue patient portal is securely linked to a health care provider's web site so that patients can download, store and share their medical images. But Kao said that vendor neutrality is an important factor in any patient portal system.

"As an imaging provider, we actually don't see the imaging portal as a standalone solution. While I'm going online to pay bills, I also want to access all my patient records regardless of the department," said Kao.

A sample of 1,000 male and female respondents, ranging in age from 18 to over 61, were asked to respond to the survey questions online. Over 60 percent characterized themselves as having moderate levels of computer competence.

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