14 findings on how patients access online medical records, use technology

Over half of patients have been offered online access to their medical records in 2017, an increase from 42 percent in 2014, according to a survey conducted by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

Patients who access their medical information are often more engaged in their care and produce improved outcomes, but access and utilization rates are lacking. In the National Cancer Institute’s 2017 Health Information Trends Survey, ONC provided data on patients access and use of online medical records, technology use and electronic monitoring devices.

Key findings included:

1.     52 percent of patients in 2017 were offered online access to their medical record by a health provider or insurer, an increase from 42 percent in 2014.

2.     28 percent of patients offered online access viewed their records at least once within the past year.

3.     24 percent of patients who were offered access did not views their records within the past year.

4.     75 percent of patients were encouraged by their provider to use their online medical records, and the encouragement made patients two times more likely to access them.

5.     63 percent patients who were encouraged by their provider to use their online medical records accessed them within the past year, while only 38 percent of unencouraged patients viewed them.

6.     76 percent of patients stated a “preference to speak to a provider directly” as the main reason for not using online records, followed by a “perceived lack of need” at 59 percent.

7.     25 percent of patients stated concerns related to privacy and security as a reason for not accessing their online medical record.

8.     75 percent of patients who accessed their online medical records within the past year were able to view laboratory test results, current list of medications and summaries of their office visits.

9.     Viewing test results (82 percent), performing one or more health-related task (62 percent) and communication with provides through secure messaging (48 percent) were the top uses for medical records.

10.  Only 3 percent of patients transmitted their health record data to a service or app.

11.  82 percent of patients who access records stated it was easy to understand and useful for the monitoring of their health.

12.  44 percent of patients had a health or wellness app downloaded on a smartphone or tablet.

13.  One-third of patients owned an electronic monitoring device like a Fitbit, blood glucose meter or blood pressure monitor.

14.  42 percent of patients used a tablet of smartphone to track progress on a health-related goal, decide about how to treat an illness (37 percent) or discuss health with their provider (33 percent).