by: Chad Harris, senior vice president and group president of Healthcare Provider Applications for ACS, A Xerox Company

484 days.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed 484 days ago.

That’s a long time and a lot of hype ago – but beyond the fact that we’ve been debating and digesting healthcare reform for more than 484 days, can anyone tell me what it means?

Right, that’s what I thought. My healthcare provider customers can – it means they have to start using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to capture funding from the government. But do their patients know what it means?  After watching this video, that answer surprised me:

Not only do almost all of the individuals in the video (all but one in this un-scientific poll) admit that their doctors have never spoken to them about EHRs, but a majority name the patient as the least likely to gain from the transfer of medical records from paper to digital. The video is reinforced by a recent online survey of 2,720 U.S. adults we conducted with our partner Harris Interactive (this one is a scientific poll) – revealing only 18 percent of respondents who have a healthcare provider have been approached by their doctors to discuss EHRs. What about you? Tell us your experience in this poll.

Now, when I talk to my provider customers and ask them what their key focus is – the answer almost unanimously is “patients.” What this tells me is that while providers remain very focused on patient care in the clinical environment, they also need to focus on patient communication.

Providers are making important technology and process change investments in support of EHRs, and should be explaining to their patients how this transition to digital will increase the quality of care they receive. So today I put a call out to all healthcare providers. Communicate the value of EHRs to your patients. You’re doing a tremendous job updating your systems – now you can help eliminate confusion and fear, and demonstrate one more way your focus is where it matters most – the patient.