Study finds demographic differences in portal access

While a majority of consumers say it’s important to have online access to their health information, a new survey finds racial and demographic differences effects who is offered such access.

In the study of 3,677 respondents, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 92 percent considered online PHI access important, but just 34 percent were offered that access by a healthcare provider, and only 28 percent had accessed online PHI through a secure website or phone app.

While the researchers found no demographic differences in interest in online access, respondents reported it was offered less often to people who were older, non-white, Hispanic, less educated or had lower incomes. Geographic differences were also noted; groups living in nonmetropolitan areas and in the Northeast or South reported being offered portal access less often.

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Similar trends were found for those who accessed their PHI online.

College graduates were significantly more likely to report being offered access and actually taking advantage of it compared with respondents who dhas less education. This also was true of respondents in the West and of those living in metropolitan areas.

Although the study involved a national sample, the response rate was low and might not be representative of the wider population, the authors noted.

A previous study of 534 older adults in the Chicago area found that only 57.5 percent of those offered portal access actually registered. Those more likely to sign up were male, white, more highly educated and had fewer chronic conditions.

To learn more:
- here's the research

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