Paperwork deters routine wellness visits

September 10, 2009

IBM study says paperwork could deter people from making regular wellness visits.

Paperwork could deter people from making regular wellness visits to their physicians, according to a new study commissioned by IBM.

According to the study, one in four U.S. residents had not scheduled a wellness visit within the last year. Of those who have not had a wellness visit in the last five years, 33% say they waste time filling out repetitive paperwork at the doctor’s office. Seventeen percent of those who have had a wellness visit in the last year also noted that paperwork was problematic.

“As indicated by the IBM study, consumers/patients are frustrated with the duplicate paperwork that they’re required to deal with for every physician visit,” says Lilian Myers, CEO of Allviant, developer of consumer-centric tools and network for healthcare.

Myers cites a recent Consumer Reports health plan survey that echoed IBM’s results with its own conclusions that the time required for multiple calls to schedule visits and understanding benefits and claims were some of patients’ biggest complaints.

“This inconvenience and aggravation has discouraged many patients from scheduling wellness and other preventative or non-urgent medical appointments,” Myers says. “As the surveys show, healthcare is filled with unknown and unmet patient expectations-and expectations are what drive satisfaction in a customer-oriented world. Too often, however, healthcare providers and payers equate patient satisfaction exclusively to the care rendered and not to how quickly the phone is answered, how long the wait for service is, how easy it is to get an appointment, and how proactively the organization is engaging with the patient with reminders for preventive care-particularly when it is covered at 100%.”

Myers points out that in industries such as banking where privacy and security are also tremendously important, organizations have seen the online evolution in response to consumer demands for real-time electronic access, transactions and communications.

“Healthcare is on the verge of being more confusing and more competitive,” Myers says. “This leap into the 21st century will drive patients to embrace proactive wellness and prevention behaviors, which will reduce costs and improve care-a benefit to all healthcare stakeholders in the long run.”

Access to high quality information about patients is critical, agrees Rob Gillette, CEO of Click4Care, an Ohio-based care management software vendor.

"Using technology to enable patients, physicians and payers to know what steps they need to take and when they need to take them is long overdue," Gillette says. “Analogous tools and technologies have been available for decades in virtually every other industry-the time for integrating them into the healthcare value chain is now.”