Electronic Health Records

Use & Optimization News

53% of Consumers Can’t Access Electronic Health Record Info

"We should be long beyond the days where one doctor holds the chart and we don't get to see it—but we're not.”

By Sara Heath

About half of patients can’t access their health information online, according to a recent survey from HealthMine. This finding is quite notable considering the recent push for patient engagement and transparency of health information.

patient engagement

The survey of approximately 500 individuals also shows that nearly 74 percent of healthcare consumers think that having easy, electronic access to their health records would help them be more informed of their general  health, and would help them make better health decisions.

Specifically, consumers are lacking access to their biometric information, their lab records, their insurance information, and their prescription histories.

According to HealthMine experts, the healthcare industry should be beyond this point, and that information sharing between the provider and the patient should be advanced enough for everyone to be able to electronically access health records.

"We should be long beyond the days where one doctor holds the chart and we don't get to see it—but we're not,” said HealthMine’s CEO and President Bryce Williams. "Sitting in the driver's seat of health requires transparency of health data. Consumers must be able to see the road, the potholes, the landmarks. Having access to complete health information is essential to managing health and healthcare dollars—and every consumer should have it."

These statistics are interesting considering the industry push for patient engagement and data transparency, which includes sharing health information with patients.

Just recently, the OpenNotes project received $10 million in grant funding to expand the initiative to impact nearly 50 million patients.

Through the OpenNotes project, physicians share their complete notes with their patients. This allows the patients to see exactly what the physician was doing throughout the appointment, and gives them a fuller picture of their health. According to OpenNotes research, these kinds of initiatives make great strides in increasing patient engagement.

“Our research shows increasingly that patients can benefit greatly from reading the notes taken during a medical visit. They tell us they feel more in control of their care and are more likely to follow up on recommendations,” said OpenNotes’ co-founder Jan Walker, RN, MBA.

Other studies confirm what HealthMine found: that patients are engaging with their electronic health records at a low rate. In November, Nielson released a survey showing that patient access to health records was low, but interest was high.

The survey found that only 28 percent of respondents had access to an online patient portal where electronic health information would typically be stored. Additionally, only 15 percent of respondents were able to use that portal to communicate with their physicians.

Despite that reported low access to health information, a majority of respondents viewed EHRs positively. Nearly 61 percent said that EHRs allow physicians to include valuable information about past health conditions into patient care, while 77 percent of respondents agreed that all physicians should be using EHRs.

These findings suggest that perhaps providers should adjust their workflows to better incorporate EHR use, and take measures to share those electronic records with their patients. Some industry stakeholders, such as Janet Marchibroda, the director of Health Innovation at the Bipartisan Policy Center, says that federal incentives are the best way to get the industry as a whole to start sharing health information with their patients.

“A lack of appropriate incentives as well as regulatory and legislative barriers have prevented many healthcare providers’ from implementing these technologies,” she explained. “Yet as healthcare organizations are increasingly responsible for improving the health of large populations, they must rely more on efficient, technology-driven patient-physician relationships to achieve performance goals. That means society must create incentives that facilitate adoption of these tools and technologies.”

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