AHA: Patients’ Ability to Electronically Access Their Medical Records is Increasing | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

AHA: Patients’ Ability to Electronically Access Their Medical Records is Increasing

July 15, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

More than 90 percent of hospitals now offer patients the capability to view electronic medical records (EMRs) online, and most offer the ability to perform related tasks, according to new research from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

The data, from the 2015 AHA Annual Survey Information Technology Supplement, which last month publicized several trends related to hospital data exchange, further revealed that now, with the adoption of EMRs, many more hospitals are offering individuals online access to their medical records. Indeed, in 2015, 92 percent of hospitals offered the ability to view medical records, compared to 43 percent of hospitals in 2013. What’s more, 84 percent of hospitals allowed patients to download information from their medical record, up from 30 percent of hospitals in 2013; and 70 percent of hospitals allowed a referral summary to be sent to a third party; only 13 percent of hospitals offered this function in 2013.

Hospitals also are able, in many cases, to offer patients the ability to perform everyday healthcare tasks online, according to the AHA report. These capabilities include the ability to schedule appointments, order prescription refills and submit payment. Offering these functions can be complex, as it integrates data from other areas within the hospital, such as scheduling, pharmacy and revenue cycle systems, which may not be easy to connect, the report authors noted. So as hospitals invest in solutions to allow online collaboration between units, the ability to offer these services will likely continue to expand, they predict. In 2015: 74 percent of hospitals provided the capability of paying bills online, up from 56 percent in 2013; 45 percent of hospitals allowed patients to schedule appointments online, in comparison to 31 percent in 2013; 44 percent of hospitals were able to allow patients to refill prescriptions online; 30 percent of patients could order refills in 2013.

Further, the ability for individuals to communicate online with providers continues to expand, the data showed. Between in-person visits, patients may have questions for providers that would otherwise require a phone call or another visit to the office. However, a growing number of hospitals now provide an additional way for patients to communicate with their care providers between visits. In 2015, 63 percent of hospitals allowed patients to message their providers online, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2014.

A smaller, but increasing, percentage of hospitals allow their patients to submit patient-generated data to their provider online, which can help physicians monitor and evaluate the patient’s condition between visits. Thirty-seven percent of hospitals provided the ability for patients to submit data in 2015, a significant increase from 14 percent of hospitals in 2013.

The AHA report’s authors conclude, “Hospitals are offering individuals more electronic access to their medical information than ever before. Patients also have a growing ability to interact with their providers and to perform routine tasks online. As more hospitals are able to offer these services, individuals will have more insight into their medical data and the ability to interact with care providers at times and in ways that are convenient for the patient.”

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.

Report: Healthcare Accounted for 45% of All Ransomware Attacks in 2017

Healthcare fell victim to more ransomware attacks than any other industry in 2017, according to a new report from global cybersecurity insurance company Beazley.

Study: Use of EHRs Does Not Reduce Administrative Costs

A recent study by Duke University and Harvard Business School researchers found that costs for processing a single bill ranged from $20 for a primary care visit to $215 for an inpatient surgical procedure, or up to 25 percent of revenue.

Kibbe to Step Down as CEO of DirectTrust

David Kibbe, M.D., M.B.A., announced he would step down as president and CEO of DirectTrust at the end of the year.