Survey: 30 percent of patients offered online medical record access in 2013

By Aditi Pai
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ONC medical record survey

Around 30 percent of patients have been offered access to their online medical records by their healthcare provider or insurer, according to a survey of more than 2,100 people conducted by the ONC last year.

The survey was conducted prior to the implementation of Meaningful Use Stage 2 and CLIA rules.

"This may in part reflect the limited view, download and transmit (VDT) capabilities of health care providers prior to MU2," ONC wrote in response to the low number of consumers who were offered access to their medical records. "Fewer than half of all office-based physicians in 2013 had the computerized capability to provide patients the ability to VDT electronic health record data, and only about a quarter routinely used this capability."

Within the group of consumers who were offered access to their medical records, 48 percent were offered access by a healthcare provider, 44 percent were offered access by both a healthcare provider and insurer, and just 7 percent were offered access to their records by an insurer alone.

Of those that were offered access, 46 percent viewed their records at least once in the last year. And within that group, 21 percent viewed their records one to two times, 15 percent viewed their records three to five times, four percent viewed their records six to nine times, and 6 percent viewed them over 10 times.

The patients who accessed their records did so for several reasons. Seventy three percent viewed records to keep tabs on their health, for example they checked their medication regimen and test results. Another 44 percent used their records to share data with someone else, some 39 percent downloaded the information to their mobile devices and computers, 11 percent sent the information to a PHR or an app, and 10 percent requested corrections in their data. Only 3 percent of consumers who accessed their data said they did not find it useful, while 60 percent said they found it very useful.

Within the group of patients who were offered access, many cited multiple reasons for why they didn't. Seventy four percent of those that didn't access their records said they didn't need to use the records, 28 percent were wary of privacy risks, 23 percent didn't have internet access, and 16 percent said they found it difficult to use websites.

Overall, 70 percent of consumers surveyed said that online access to medical records was very or somewhat important. Of those that were offered access to their medical records but did not view them, 62 percent said online access was very or somewhat important.

"Together, these findings suggest that even in the early stages of online medical records, individuals do value and find use from basic capabilities to access their online medical record," ONC wrote.