More than half of patients report that their medical history is missing or incomplete when they visit their doctor, and nearly half say their physician is not aware of what prescriptions they are taking.

Those are some of the results of a recent survey from health information network vendor Surescripts, which links providers to pharmacies. Other findings: 61 percent of those surveyed indicate their doctor does not know their allergies, 44 percent of physicians are unaware of hospitalizations or visits with other doctors, and 40 percent do not know about recent surgeries.

“This is a particular problem for patients with multiple illnesses and multiple physicians,” says Paul Uhrig, chief privacy officer for Surescripts. “What we’re talking about are fundamental gaps in doctors’ knowledge of people’s medical histories.”

Also See: Patient Access to Medical Records Remains Hindered

“In the very complex and busy world of frontline healthcare delivery, we’re missing a lot of the basics,” says Julia Hallisy of the Empowered Patient Coalition. “Communication is a huge problem. It’s implicated in more errors than anything else. We have an ongoing survey in our organization with over 800 people who have experienced some sort of medical error and communication errors absolutely top the list.”

As a patient advocate, Hallisy believes the Surescripts survey demonstrates that patients are “ready and willing” to embrace health IT but physicians seem to be lagging behind and it is having a negative impact on the care they provide.

In the survey, many patients say doctors using computers or tablets over paper during a visit are organized, efficient, innovative and competent. Also, practices that have adopted technology such as online appointment scheduling provide patients with a sense of relief (68 percent), confidence (65 percent) and comfort (55 percent). Still, nearly 30 percent of surveyed patients report having to fax or physically transport test results, X-rays, or health records from one doctor’s office to another.

“We find it encouraging that clearly now there is an expectation on the part of patients that physicians and providers will be using health information technology to make sure that they are getting the best care possible,” says Uhrig. “It appears the tide has turned.” Still, he notes that it is still a “pain point for some patients to get access to their records.”

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