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ONC Brief: Half of Patients Offered Online Access to Health Data in 2017

April 17, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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In 2017, half of individuals nationwide reported they had been offered online access to their medical record by a healthcare provider or insurer, according to an April data brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

Of those patients who were offered online access, more than half actually viewed their medical data, representing about 28 percent of individuals nationwide who were offered access to and looked at the health data within the last year. About one-quarter of individuals were offered access to an online medical record but did not view their record within the past year.

About eight in 10 individuals who accessed their online medical record reported that it was both easy to understand and useful. In all, individuals’ access to online medical records increased by almost one-quarter (24 percent) between 2014 and 2017, according to the data brief. 

The data came from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), which has been conducted since 2003. Complete data were collected from 3,191 respondents, with a 32 percent response rate.

What’s more, the ONC brief found that individuals who were encouraged by their healthcare provider to use their online medical record were nearly two times more likely to access their online medical record compared to those who were not encouraged.  And, at least three-quarters of individuals who accessed their online medical record within the past year reported that it included laboratory test results, current list of medications, and summaries of their office visits. The least frequently reported type of information included in an online medical record was clinical notes.

Further, the top two reasons cited by individuals for not accessing their online medical record within the past year were their “preference to speak to a provider directly” (76 percent) and “perceived lack of need” (59 percent). Another 25 percent of people said they were concerned about the privacy/security of an online medical record.

And among individuals who accessed their online medical record, about eight in 10 viewed test results, while less than one in five downloaded their online medical record, and only about one in 10 electronically transmitted their healthcare data from their online medical record. Less than 5 percent of individuals transmitted their health record data to a service or app.

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