Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Are Meaningful Use Requirements Enough for Patient Engagement?

By Vera Gruessner

As Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements have pushed forward the need for healthcare providers to offer patients a means to download, view, and transmit their electronic medical information, more healthcare facilities have implemented patient portals and encouraged their consumers to utilize these tools.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) discusses in an article how meaningful use requirements under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, the Blue Button Initiative, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have all brought more focus on patient engagement throughout the healthcare industry.

While there has been a greater aim toward patient engagement through meaningful use requirements within the sector, are patients actually interested in seeing their records through web-based or electronic means? Are there enough consumers who demand to see their medical information online through a patient portal? The HealthITBuzz article attempts to answer these questions.

The most important question to answer is, out of all patients who are offered electronic access to their data and a secure messaging platform to communicate with their physicians, how many have actually utilized these tools. A data brief called Individuals’ Access and Use of Their Online Medical Record Nationwide shows the general use of online health tools and patient access to their records.

The results show that approximately one-third of American patients experience some type of gap with regard to health information exchange. The most common issue that 18 percent of patients experience is the need to tell a healthcare provider about one’s medical history due to the lack of patient records from a prior provider. Additionally, 18 percent of patients had to bring in an MRI, X-ray, or other test result to a doctor’s appointment due to lack of sharing pertinent medical data among different facilities.

Based on results from a consumer survey taken in 2013, a total of 28 percent of patients were offered electronic access to their web-based health record due to the stipulations within meaningful use requirements. The results also show that only 46 percent of those offered access actually viewed their medical information one or more times. Only 10 percent of those given access to their data viewed their patient record six or more times.

However, a total of 60 percent of those who accessed their data found it “very useful” while another 28 percent regarded it as “somewhat useful.” These statistics show promise that, over time, patients will see the benefits of utilizing portals to view their health records and patient engagement with their wellness can grow steadily.

“A majority of those that accessed their online record considered the information very useful. Even among the survey respondents who did not access their medical records online, a majority viewed secure online access to those records as very or somewhat important, and this was nearly universal among those who did access their online record,” stated ONC representatives in the HealthITBuzz article.

As new technologies evolve and healthcare providers continue to implement patient portals and other secure messaging platforms, patient engagement should steadily increase throughout the country.

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