Survey: More consumers amenable to online portals

Consumers continue to warm up to the concept of online access and patient portals, although many of them are still unaware of the tools, according to a new survey from Xerox.

The annual survey of 2,017 U.S. adults, released Dec. 16, found that 64 percent of respondents don't use online portals but 57 percent of those would be more involved and productive in their healthcare if they had online access. Of those who don't use a portal, more than one-third (35 percent) didn't know one was available and 31 percent had never had a discussion with their physician about it.

The survey also found that providers may be able to increase portal use by focusing on the various needs of different generations. For instance, 64 percent of millennials who use a portal were more interested and involved in their healthcare since they received online access, but they were more likely to access the portal while on the go, using smartphones and tablets. More than half (56 percent) of Baby Boomers who don't use portals said that they would be more involved in their care if they had online access; two-thirds of Baby Boomers have multiple chronic conditions, and were "ripe" for more patient engagement.

"With providers facing regulatory changes, mounting costs, and patients who increasingly seek access to more information, our survey points to an opportunity to address issues by simply opening dialogue with patients about patient portals," Tamara St. Claire, chief innovation officer, Commercial Healthcare for Xerox, said in a statement. "Educating patients will empower them to participate more fully in their own care while helping providers demonstrate that electronic health records are being used in a meaningful way."

Eighty-five percent of respondents did express concerns about the security of the electronic records, up from 83 percent the year before.

The results are consistent with other recent reports about consumers' evolving views and use of portals as the tools increasingly become available. The public is more accepting of EHRs than they have in the past, even though they're concerned about security. However, many patients don't necessarily take advantage of the opportunity to access portals without more provider support and communication.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement