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ONC: More Patients Taking Advantage of Access to Online Medical Records

October 16, 2015
by Heather Landi
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More than half of patients who were offered online access to their medical record viewed their record at least once within the last year, according to a data brief from the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

The data brief provides national estimates of consumers’ access and use of their electronic health record based upon nationally representative surveys from 2012 to 2014. And, the brief was based on data from the ONC Consumer Survey of Attitudes Toward the Privacy and Security Aspects of Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchange (HIE). The survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with MITRE.

In 2014, 38 percent of patients, or one in four, reported being offered access to their online medical record by either a healthcare provider or health insurer, and that’s up from 28 percent in 2012, according to the data brief. And, one in 10 individuals accessed their online medical record more than six times over a one-year period. Among all individuals who used their online medical record, 92 percent reported having access to laboratory results, 79 percent had access to a list of health and medical problems and 74 percent reported having access to a current list of medications.

The data brief also reports that the most common reason individuals used their online medical records was to monitor their health (67 percent of survey respondents) and 35 percent downloaded the information. Thirty-three percent of individuals shared information with at least one other party, such as a healthcare provider or family member.

For those who used their online medical record at least once within the past year, eight in 10 (87%) considered the information useful, the data brief reports.

In 2014, over one-third of individuals who visited a health care provider in the last year experienced at least one gap in information exchange among their health care providers or between themselves and their health care provider. The most frequent gaps in information exchange related to health care providers not sharing medical records and test results.

To address these gaps in care, among individuals whose provider had an EHR, almost one in five individuals requested their health care provider electronically transmit their health information to another health care provider.

Survey results also indicated a need for consumer outreach to increase patients’ awareness regarding electronic access and use of online medical records. More than one-quarter of individuals either didn’t believe they had a right or were unaware of their right to an electronic copy of their medical record.

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