Only 10% of patients access their digital medical records, study finds

While most (95 percent) of recently-discharged hospital patients have electronic access to their medical records, just 10 percent of patients actually take advantage of them, according to a recent Health Affairs study.

For the study, Portland (Ore.) State University researchers examined nationwide data from 2,410 hospitals between 2014-16 to assess the associations between patient- and hospital-level characteristics and access to the use of EHR data among patients discharged from the hospital.

The research team found that on average, hospitals offered 95 percent of discharged patients access to view, download and transmit their information. However, only 10 percent of individuals with access used it.

"This means that there's something there that hospitals could be doing on their own to get more people to use the record," said Sunny Lin, assistant professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, who led the study, according to a Dec. 10 news release.

Study results also show that EHR data access rates were highest among system-member, teaching and for-profit hospitals and lowest among hospitals with disproportionate share hospital status and hospitals located in counties with high proportions of Medicare and Medicaid patients. Additionally, use rates were lower for hospitals located in areas where patients lacked computer or internet access.

Researchers concluded that hospitals must initiate efforts to boost patient EHR use because patients who are more engaged in their healthcare know more about their health and have better follow up care.

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