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ONC: More Patients Accessing EMRs

By: Nextech | October 20th, 2015

ONC: More Patients Accessing EMRs Blog Feature

In a new study from the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), it appears patients are being offered access to their electronic medical records and increasingly choosing to check them as well.


The new numbers from 2014 report that approximately 40 percent of patients were offered access and nearly half of those patients eventually followed through on checking their EMRs. Just one year ago, only 28 percent of patients were offered access to their EMR and a slight less amount of patients -- 46 percent -- actually accessed them. 

There's no doubt that these numbers are encouraging for ONC as the government works to increase patients' access to their medical information.

"The ability of individuals to easily and securely access and use their health information electronically serves as one of the cornerstones of nationwide efforts to increase patient and family engagement, and advance person-centered health," the report stated.

RELATED: Report: Consumer use of healthcare technology trending upward 

"With access to their electronic health information, individuals can serve as intermediaries of information exchange among providers and use innovative applications to better manage their health."

Perhaps most telling about the report findings is that those who accessed their EMRs overwhelmingly found the information pertinent. In 2014, 81 percent of patients who check their electronic health information said the data was useful and only four percent claimed it was not useful.

Additionally, a large majority of patients said their EMRs allowed access to three important areas:

  • Laboratory test results -- 92%
  • List of health and medical problems -- 79%
  • Current list of medications -- 74%

One aspect holding back even larger growth of EMR use among patients seems to be simply that some patients aren't even told that they have access to their EMRs. According to the study, 27 percent of patients were unaware or didn't believe they had a right to an electronic copy of their medical records. Furthermore, medical providers need to improve how they communicate this information to patients as a lack of need remained the top reason for patients not accessing their medical records.

"A lack of need remains the most frequently cited reason for not accessing an online medical record. Illustrating the value of using an online medical record to manage one's health and address information gaps among providers could increase usage among those individuals who cited a lack of need as a reason for not accessing an online medical record."

To view the full report, please click here.