ONC survey: Nearly half of patients given online access to records use it

For providers fretting over the patient engagement requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 2 (MU2), a new data brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT should offer some encouragement.

Its survey found that 46 percent of patients who were offered access to their health records online viewed their records at least once--a level nine times higher than the required MU2 threshold.

The survey of 2,100 people, conducted in 2013, however, found that only about three in 10 were offered access to an online medical record.

At the same time, 54 percent did not view their online information becuase the majority saw no need to. Others cited concerns such as privacy or security of the online medical record website and not having Internet access.

Almost seven in 10 respondents considered having secure access to an online medical record as very or somewhat important, including 62 percent of those who did not access their records.

A majority of those who did view their records at least once said they found the access very helpful. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they used the information to monitor their health, and four in 10 shared the information with someone else, such as a healthcare provider or a family member.

The authors found that data-sharing is a hopeful sign. One-third of respondents said they had encountered a gap in information exchange within the previous year, such as a doctor who had not received records from another provider, or the need to bring test results to an appointment. This level of data-sharing could mean patients use the access to their records to close these data gaps, the authors say.

Other surveys have a less optimistic view about patient use of portals. One reported recently that 40 percent of its respondents didn't even know whether their primary care physician had a portal; in another, only one-third had access and another third weren't sure whether they did.

Even the Department of Veterans Affairs' highly touted Blue Button has drawn only about a third of the veterans given the capability to view their records online.

To learn more:
- read the ONC data brief

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