More docs believe IT benefits patients: Poll

Doctors in Singapore are placing a growing trust in information technology and have a stronger belief that it has health benefits for patients, a new survey claims.

Eighty per cent of GPs say using a patient's electronic medical records results in improved outcomes, compared with 74 per cent who felt this way in 2012.

Similarly, 88 per cent felt electronic records reduce medical errors, up from 78 per cent in 2012.

The findings come from a study of 2,600 doctors in six countries, including 200 here, commissioned by global consulting and IT company Accenture.

Since 2013, all public sector doctors have had access to the National Electronic Health Records, although the system is still being rolled out to the private sector.

The six countries surveyed were the United States, Australia, Britain, Norway, Brazil and Singapore.

Doctors in the US and Australia were the biggest users of computers and other electronic gadgets for administrative tasks, with 63 per cent using them compared with 49 per cent here.

The US also leads when it comes to using computers to aid clinical decision-making, with 34 per cent of doctors there doing so. Singapore's 28 per cent puts it on a par with Britain, and ahead of Australia, Norway and Brazil.

Half of the Singapore doctors in the survey were specialists and the other half were primary-care doctors such as GPs. Slightly more than half worked in the public sector.

While 86 per cent claimed to be more proficient in the use of electronic medical records than they were in the last survey, 42 per cent still found them difficult to use.

Almost half said they use the system to access clinical data on patients who have been seen by doctors elsewhere, enter patient notes electronically and prescribe drugs.

The study found that 58 per cent of doctors here use IT to provide patients with reminders or follow-up care and for booking appointments online. One in six also holds video conferences with patients and 43 per cent communicate with them via e-mail.

The report said: "Doctors in Singapore believe that allowing patients to update their own medical records increases their engagement in their own health, improves patient satisfaction, boosts understanding of their health conditions, increases patient and physician communication, and increases the accuracy of their medical records."

Ms Corissa Leung, managing director for Accenture's health business in Singapore, said: "When patients have a greater role in the healthcare process, it can increase their understanding of conditions, improve motivation and serve as a clear differentiator for clinical care provided by physicians."

This article was first published on May 14, 2015.
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