This data brief from the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reports on data from a national survey regarding patients’ access and use of their online electronic medical records.  Among the Stage 2 requirements for meaningful use of certified electronic health records are that more than 50% of unique patients are offered access to their online medical record and more than 5% of unique patients use view, download, and transmit capabilities when accessing their online medical records.

This 2013 survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with MITRE. The respondent universe for the survey was the civilian, non-institutionalized population ages 18 years old and older within the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey utilized a dual random digit dialing (RDD) frame of landline phone numbers and wireless/mobile phone numbers developed by Survey Sampling International (SSI). In order to reduce sampling variability and to represent the nation, NORC stratified the landline RDD frame by Census Region. The survey also oversampled Hispanic, Asian and Black populations.  A total of 2,107 surveys were completed, with an interview completion rate of 41% and a response rate of 21%.  The data reported are weighted national estimates.

The respondents reported the following issues that might have been addressed with the appropriate use of electronic medical records:

  • 18% had to tell a health care provider about their medical history because the provider had not gotten their health care records from another provider
  • 18% had to bring an x-ray, MRI, or other type of test result with them to their appointment with a provider.

However, only 7% reported that they had to provide their medical history again because their medical chart could not be found and only 6% reported that they had to redo a test or procedure because the earlier test results were not available.

69% of the respondents considered having secure access to an online medical record as very or somewhat important; that percentage increased to 94% among those who had actually used access to their online medical record.

Although the Stage 2 meaningful use requirement establishes a goal of 50%, only 28% of the respondents in this 2013 survey reported being offered access to their online medical record; among those offered access, 44% were offered access by both their health care provider and health insurer, 48% by only their health care provider, and 7% by only their health insurer.

And among those provided online access, only 46% used that access to view their online medical record.  This means that while less than 13% of respondents actually accessed their online medical record, this far exceeds the 5% goal in the Stage 2 meaningful use requirement.

Among those that used access to their online medical record, 73% used that access to monitor their health (check on medication or test results) and 44% to share information (with another health care provider, or family member).  39% downloaded information from their online medical record to their computer or mobile device but only 11% transmitted the information to an app or personal health record.  10% requested corrections to errors in their online medical record.  Among those who used access to their online medical record, 60% reported that their health information was very useful, and an additional 28% reported their health information somewhat useful.

The most frequent reason for not accessing their online medical record when offered was that respondents did not have a need to use their online medical record (74%); other less frequent reasons were concerns about privacy and security (28%), not having access to the internet (23%), and the website with the online medical records being difficult to use (16%).

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