Dec 21, 2023



How to Expand Patient Data Access for Better Health Outcomes

Data drives decisions—make sure you provide what your patients need to keep them healthy and engaged with your health system.

The healthcare landscape has become more patient-centric than ever by prioritizing consumers’ experiences and individual needs. Since the pandemic, almost two-thirds of consumers have become more concerned about their health and wellness, and over 50% of consumers say they’re researching health conditions online more than they did before 2020.

In other words, patients are participating in preventive care and taking charge of their health between doctor appointments. But how can they understand their symptoms and address specific concerns if their health information isn’t readily available?

Recent findings from a survey conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Carta Healthcare found that 60% of consumers don’t have adequate access to their patient data. In the same study, these patients reported having a strong interest in their own medical records and prefer healthcare professionals who offer greater patient data access. But in addition to their own health data, they want access to information about healthcare professionals in order to feel confident in making decisions about their care.

So, what does this mean for your health system?

The average American checks their phone 144 times daily, meaning you’ll likely find consumers online via their mobile device. With the internet at their fingertips, convenience is just a tap away—they can order groceries, ship products to their homes, and pay their bills. And it’s this same level of expediency and ease that consumers expect (and want) from health systems.

Patients Want Access to Their Own Data

Patients want to feel confident and informed in making healthcare decisions. Providing individuals with easy access to their health information puts them in control of their health and well-being. Patients who have access to their medical records are better equipped to:

  • Understand Treatment Plans: When patients have a thorough understanding of their treatment plans, they are more likely to adhere to them, leading to improved health outcomes.
  • Monitor Chronic Conditions: Access to health data enables patients to effectively monitor chronic conditions, allowing them to take proactive steps in managing their health.
  • Error Correction: Patients can identify and correct errors in their health records, ensuring their medical history is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Track Progress: Patients can track their progress in wellness or disease management programs and keep up with health obligations.
  • Contribute to Research: Patients with access to their health data can directly contribute their information to research efforts, advancing medical knowledge and potentially benefiting others in the future.

By ensuring patients have access to data and that this information seamlessly follows them throughout their healthcare journey, healthcare organizations can potentially reduce administrative burdens, eliminate redundant procedures and testing, and free up valuable clinician time. Doctors can instead focus on improving care coordination and—ultimately—patient health outcomes.

The easiest way to connect patients to their data is through patient portals. These EHR-tethered websites serve as invaluable hubs for patient-centered care, enabling them to remain engaged in their care between visits. Patient portals provide them access to critical health data, including lab results, medical histories, discharge summaries, and immunization records.

Moreover, patient portals help patients flag medical errors, improve medication adherence, and facilitate doctor-patient communication, enhancing the overall quality of care they receive. In fact, a June 2022 survey showed that nine in 10 patients agreed that unfettered access to health data was critical in managing their care—but providing them with this access has been easier said than done.

In one survey, 42% of patients said they have difficulty getting their medical records from a patient portal, while 45% have trouble getting them from their doctors during a time of need. Meanwhile, 15% of patients said they aren’t even sure they have access to their health data, with over two-thirds reporting they aren’t sure where their medical records are stored after an appointment. 

Under HIPAA, patients have a right to access their own health information. However, with its strict privacy rules, it can sometimes be unclear what rights those are. Let patients know that under HIPAA, they have full access to their health data. This means they can access any and all Protected Health Information (PHI) from their doctors, and healthcare professionals cannot deny them access to their health data even for unpaid medical bills. HIPAA also allows patients to share their health data with third-party entities, such as family members or caregivers, to actively involve them in a treatment plan.

Integrating a patient portal into your practice isn’t enough to keep patients informed—your health system should address existing accessibility gaps to close the communication loop between doctors and patients for better care.

Patients Also Want Access to Data on Doctors and Hospitals

In addition to their own health data, patients increasingly seek access to information about healthcare professionals and institutions. A McKinsey survey found that over 60% of patients feel they don’t receive enough information from health systems to make informed decisions about their care.

Knowledge is power, and this holds true when it comes to selecting doctors and hospitals. Every appointment delay or missed prescription refill can significantly impact a patient’s prognosis, particularly for conditions like cancer or multiple sclerosis, which may progress aggressively without timely treatment.

To enhance patient outcomes and better inform decision-making, here’s what your health system can provide patients:

  • Physician Data: When choosing a doctor, it’s essential to have comprehensive data about a doctor’s qualifications. Information like bedside manner, patient reputation, medical background, and frequency of treatment help paint a clearer picture for a patient looking to find a healthcare professional best fit for their needs. Patients, particularly those requiring specialized treatments or procedures, need easy access to information about the frequency of specific treatments performed by certain doctors to identify the most qualified physicians who can address their specific healthcare needs. However, qualifications are just one part of the equation. Patients also value honest feedback from other patients about their experiences with a healthcare professional. In fact, around 84% of patients check online reviews before choosing a doctor.
  • Outcomes Data: Healthgrades’ consumer confidence study found that 57% of patients are more concerned with the quality of care they choose today than they were before the pandemic—over one-third of patients now spend more time researching hospital quality before deciding where to have a procedure than they did pre-pandemic. In addition, as more consumers spend time researching hospitals before deciding where to seek care, they must have the tools to easily identify high-quality care options. For example, to promote transparency in healthcare, hospitals can license third-party awards and recognize healthcare professionals who deliver outstanding care. This way, hospitals can build a reputation of openness, reliability, and trust among patients, converting new prospects and inspiring loyalty from existing patients.

While physician and outcomes data is more patient-focused, hospitals can help promote this information by assisting doctors in updating their care philosophies and biographical details, thus boosting their visibility online to ensure that people can find out more about them. The best way to do so? Partner with Healthgrades. Our advertising solutions help patients find and engage with your brand and medical staff pre- and post-appointment. We have data on every doctor in America, including robust profile data and hospital quality outcomes, to usher in a new era of transparency.

Boost Transparency and Improve Patient Outcomes with Healthgrades

It’s up to healthcare organizations to make sure health data is accessible to patients and that patients are aware of their rights to their information. Transparency and accessibility make a difference in patient care. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), one effective way to empower patients with their data is to leverage patient portal marketing strategies. To start, health systems can offer patient portal access in multiple languages and ensure this tool is mobile-optimized and user-friendly to remove as many accessibility barriers as possible.

Healthgrades takes the concept of informed healthcare decisions to a whole new level. As the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, Healthgrades offers many resources to inform and encourage patients to seek the best care. We surface data about doctors and hospitals that patients wouldn’t have otherwise, including millions of verified doctor reviews. Physicians with 7-12 reviews on their profile receive 5x more appointment requests than physicians without reviews, which means updating your hospital’s doctor profiles on can generate more traffic and conversions to your health system.

Plus, physician profiles on Healthgrades make it easy for patients to compare doctors based on experience with specific conditions and procedures, including frequency of treatment. For instance, while a person needing a knee replacement may be able to find several highly-rated orthopedic surgeons in their area, one orthopedic surgeon may have more experience with knee replacements while another may be more experienced at hip replacements.

As a result, doctors should always keep their profiles updated with current information about procedures performed, open hours, and contact information. We also recommend that healthcare professionals curate their profiles with special extras like their care philosophy to let patients know what to expect and determine if they’ll be a good fit. Adding physician videos can also help build trust—patients who watched a physician’s video were 50% more likely to contact their practice.1

Healthgrades’ hospital star ratings and quality awards—based on performance data, not perception—also help patients make informed decisions about where they seek care. For instance, our Specialty Excellence Awards show that the risk of having a complication during a knee replacement surgery is 74% lower at a hospital with a 5-star rating than it is at a hospital with a 1-star rating, so knowing a hospital’s rating can make all the difference for a patient needing knee surgery—and any other specific care.

We conduct extensive comparative analysis annually to rate and recognize hospitals nationwide for their outstanding performance. In addition, we objectively evaluate hospital quality based on clinical outcomes for the most common procedures and conditions and analysis of over 45 million Medicare claims from 4,500 hospitals nationwide. Our data is also risk-adjusted per your patient population’s clinical comorbidities and demographics so that the information we present is information your patients can trust.

What else can Healthgrades offer your health system?

  • More Visibility: Healthgrades provides prominent branding and calls to action on physician search results pages and doctor profiles.
  • Competitive Intercept: Promote your brand and present your medical staff as alternative options directly on your competitors’ doctor profiles.
  • Syndication Access: Extend your brand’s reach by partnering with Healthgrades and providing a seamless user experience on partner sites across the web.
  • Easy Conversions: Integrate online appointment scheduling for in-person and telehealth services directly into your profiles, making it convenient for patients to book appointments.
  • Better Patient Retention: Redirect patients considering doctors who aren’t accepting new patients to other doctors within your healthcare system to reduce patient leakage and retain valuable patients.

From America’s top 250 hospitals and specialty-specific ratings to patient experience and safety, Healthgrades has been helping hospitals celebrate clinical success for over 20 years. Let us help you celebrate yours—get in touch today.

1 Healthgrades Analytics