A recent report from the HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) revealed that even though majority of hospitals and doctors are now using electronic medical records, only 50% of patients are being offered medical records access online.
The two objectives of the 21st Century Cures Act were to give patients easier access to their health information and to better educate them concerning their health information access rights. The ONC performed its Health Information Trends Survey (HINTS) to find out if health organizations are offering patients online access to their medical records and if the patients have used that right to view their medical records.
The number of patients offered online access to their medical records in 2018 was just the same as in 2017, which was 51% of patients. But the number of patients that actually accessed, viewed or downloaded their medical records at least once increased to 30%, from 27% in 2017.
People who saw their physician one or more times in the last 12 months were twice as likely to be given online access to their medical records compared to those who didn’t. They were also over 50% more probable to use that right to access their medical records compared to patients who did not see their physician in the past year.
Patients who accessed their medical records on the internet are as follows:
- 11% accessed their records 6 or more times
- 19% viewed their records 3 to 5 times
- 29% viewed their records 1 or 2 times
The number of patients who downloaded their health records in 2018 was 33 % higher than in 2017.
The following individuals are more likely to be given online access to their medical records:
- Those with chronic conditions
- Those who have at least a college degree
- Those having a family income of at least $75,000
When the patients were asked why they opted not to access their medical records on the internet, the reasons were mostly identical to 2017. The primary reasons were the patients’ preference to directly talk with their healthcare provider (73%) and the patients did not need to see their health records (65%).
The number of people who did not access their medical records decreased for two reasons. First was the privacy and security concerns and second was the patients’ lack of access to the internet.
Americans seem to be more interested in their health as people using health apps increased. 49% of participants are using an app on their smartphone or tablet and 33% are using a digital monitoring device like a Fitbit-type device, blood glucose monitor or blood pressure monitoring device.
People who use apps do so for the following reasons:
- 75% use an app for tracking progress of reaching a health-related goal
- 48% use an app to decide about health issues
- 45% use an app to talk to their providers about health
Individuals who used their smartphone or tablet to share health data with a healthcare professional increased to 28% in 2018 from 26% in 2017.