Interoperability Tops 'To-Do' List According to Medical Students

WATERTOWN, Mass., Sept. 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- athenahealth, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATHN), a leading provider of cloud-based services and mobile applications for medical groups and health systems, today announced results from the 10th annual Epocrates Future Physicians of America survey. The results reveal the opinions of more than 1,000 medical students on medical school training, the future of technology, and industry challenges.

An infographic accompanying this release is available at

Improved interoperability is imperative: According to medical students, fragmented care is the #1 safety risk for today's patients, underscoring the need for improved and meaningful patient data sharing. Almost all students believe that easily sharing patient records among care teams is critical to improving patient care, yet 44 percent are concerned about the ability to do so within a hospital or practice and 73 percent worry about the ability to share patient information across unaffiliated practices.

  • Other findings include: Topping 'to-do' list: 96 percent believe that improving the ability of EHR systems to access patient data from other systems is important to providing better patient care, while the improvement of collaboration with extended care teams follows a close second.
  • This mirrors results from an athenahealth survey of practicing physicians earlier this year, which found 96 percent of physicians believe in the importance of accessing relevant patient data from other EHR systems. 95 percent of physicians experienced a delay or difficulty delivering medical care because patients' health records were not accessible/shared.
  • 87 percent of students support creating a universal patient record.

"As a registered nurse, I've found it's nearly impossible to synchronize patient information obtained by different providers," said Kenneth Iwuji, fourth year medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. "Health systems all use a variety of vendors and none seem to talk to each other. In order to gain critical information about the patient, we are still stuck using phones and faxes, which aren't helpful in emergency situations. These barriers need to be broken down; there's no reason why information shouldn't flow freely and securely."

Students embrace digital medicine, but are lukewarm on telemedicine, preferring face-to-face visits: When it comes to leveraging digital tools to enhance delivery of care, 41 percent of students turn to a medical app first for clinical answers while only 29 percent would seek advice from a peer first. Almost all would encourage patients to use monitoring devices (97 percent) or email them for treatment advice via a patient portal (74 percent). Yet an overwhelming 98 percent of medical students would prefer to see their future patients face-to-face for the initial visit as opposed to virtually. Even for follow-ups, 89 percent of students favor the traditional face-to-face exam.

Burdensome documentation is overwhelming: 71 percent of third and fourth-year students report they spend more time documenting encounters than seeing the patients themselves. What's more, 80 percent expect they will continue to document more than interact with patients when they become physicians.

Dissatisfaction with practice management training continues: For the fifth year in a row, medical students said they have been inadequately prepared to run a successful health care practice: only 8 percent feel equipped to manage a practice and only 4 percent to bill and code. Perhaps as a result, only 12 percent of students plan to work in a solo or partnership practice, continuing the trend toward employment by hospitals and large group practices.

This survey was sent to more than 18,000 medical students who use Epocrates. 75 percent of the 1,026 respondents were third and fourth-year medical students. More information about results of this year's Future Physicians of America survey can be found here.

Dr. Brian Anderson, a family medicine physician and senior manager of clinical content at athenahealth, will also lead a webinar discussion of the results on Thursday, October 8. Register online here.

About athenahealth, Inc.

athenahealth is a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health records (EHR), revenue cycle management and medical billing, patient engagement, care coordination, and population health management, as well as Epocrates ® and other point-of-care mobile apps. We connect care® and drive meaningful, measurable results for more than 67,000 healthcare providers in medical practices and health systems nationwide. For more information, please visit

CONTACT: athenahealth, Inc. Holly Spring athenahealth, Inc. (Media) 617-402-1329 Dana Quattrochi athenahealth, Inc. (Investors) 617-402-1329

Source: athenahealth, Inc.