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New ONC Guide Supports MyHealthEData, EHR Patient Data Access

The ONC guide helps patients more easily access EHR patient data as part of the MyHealthEData initiative.

A new ONC guide is intended to improve EHR patient data access.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- ONC recently released a new online resource titled “ONC Guide to Getting and Using your Health Records” intended to assist patients and caregivers in more easily accessing EHR patient data per provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act and the Trump Administration’s MyHealthEData initiative.

The MyHealthEData initiative is spearheaded by the White House Office of American Innovation with support from ONC, CMS, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and VA. The government-wide initiative is designed to give patients more control over their own EHR data and enable patients to choose the provider that best meets their needs.

MyHealthEData will allow patients to grant the provider of their choice access to their complete health information, receive copies of their own EHRs, and share personal health data with anyone they choose.

“It’s important that patients and their caregivers have access to their own health information so they can make decisions about their care and treatments,” said National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD, in an emailed press release.

Improving patient access to health information represents a step forward in ONC’s mission to improve interoperability industry-wide, boost patient engagement, and enable more patient-centered care.

The ONC guide and the MyHealthEData Initiative may help to improve patient engagement among the 72 percent of individuals nationwide who did not view or access their EHRs online in 2017, according to a new ONC data brief.

“As of 2017, 52 percent of individuals have been offered online access to their medical record by a health provider or insurer,” stated ONC Senior Advisor Vaishali Patel and co-author Christian Johnson. “Over half of those who were offered online access viewed their record within the past year; this represents 28 percent of individuals nationwide.”

While the percent of patients that accessed their EHRs in 2017 was relatively low, those who did found the information easy to understand.

“Among those who accessed their online medical record within the past year, 8 in 10 considered their online medical record both easy to understand and useful,” wrote report authors.

Furthermore, about 25 percent of patients who were offered access to their online EHR data viewed their health information three or more times over the past year. About 80 percent of patients who accessed their online EHRs in 2017 did so to view test results, while about 60 percent of patients scheduled appointments, requested prescription refills, or completed paperwork.

Ultimately, report findings indicated that when patients access their EHR data, most find the information meaningful.

“Overall, 85 percent of individuals reported that their online medical record was useful for monitoring their health,” stated authors in the brief.

While many patients have responded positively to viewing their health information, few see the need to engage in health data exchange.

According to the report, patients who accessed their information in 2017 very rarely exchanged health data from their online EHR, with only about 10 percent of patients reportedly transmitting health data from their EHRs in 2017.

“Less than 5 percent of individuals transmitted their health record data to a service or app,” stated authors.

The new ONC guide is intended to boost that number by informing patients about the importance of accessing and interacting with their health information. Additionally, the guide offers patients tips on how to check their record to ensure their information is complete, accurate, and up-to-date, as well as share their health data to improve care coordination with providers.

Promoting awareness about the importance of patient engagement with health information may encourage patients to take a more active role in managing their own care.

“This guide will help answer some of the questions that patients may have when asking for their health information,” said Rucker.



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