Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
09:47 AM

Many Patients Love EHRs, Fear Storing Data Themselves

Consumer interest in accessing electronic health records is growing, but still below majority level, survey reports.

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Nearly half of consumers have viewed or would be interested in seeing their electronic health records (EHRs), according to a new survey by Manhattan Research. But so far, that interest has not translated into a leap in the use of personal health record (PHR) applications to store that data.

Based on the survey's sample of 8,745 adults, Manhattan Research estimated that 56 million people, or 24% of the adult population, have already accessed data in their physician's EHR. Moreover, the New York-based firm said, 41 million (17%) more consumers would like to have this access.

In contrast, 140 million consumers--a 59% majority--report that they have not used and would not be interested in accessing their medical records in their doctor's EHR.

The two groups have very different profiles, said Monique Levy, VP of research for Manhattan Research, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. Those who have accessed or would like to access their EHR data, she noted, "tend to be more proactive in terms of going online to look for health information; they're more advanced in terms of the devices they use; when we talked about what pain points they experienced with the healthcare system, they were more keenly aware of things that aren't working. So their profiles suggest they're more proactive about their health."

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People who reject the idea of looking up their medical records online, she said, are older, "less advanced" in the use of technology, and less interested in searching for information online. Also, she said, the non-users "don't seem concerned with things that aren't working in the healthcare system."

As a whole, Levy said, the results indicate that the non-users either don't have a need for their health information or are more passive than the users and would-be users of the data.

Asked how patients obtained the EHR data, Levy replied, "Some of them may have seen it during the consultation. Doctors may have swiveled the screen around to show the data to the patient. The other way would be to give patients portal access to some part of the record."

The survey did not ask consumers, however, how they had gotten access to the information. So it is also possible that their physicians gave them a CD or a thumbdrive containing the data. Practice management consultants say this is one way for practices to meet the Meaningful Use requirement that they provide patients with electronic copies of their health information upon request.

Another question the survey did not ask was what portions of their medical record the consumers viewed. Levy said it is likely that some of the content consisted of lab results.

The survey didn't show whether consumers who obtain EHR data store it in a personal health record (PHR). However, it did find that 16% of "online" consumers, or about 30 million people, have PHRs. When that figure is compared with the total number of adults over 18, it appears that 12.6% of respondents have PHRs. That's just a bit more than the 11% of Americans who said they had PHRs in a recent Deloitte survey.

While that percentage is growing rapidly--it was only 3% in 2008--it still represents a small percentage of consumers. Observers offer several reasons, including limitations of PHR data, applications that don't engage consumers, and resistance to entering data manually into the PHR.

The Manhattan Research results suggest that even consumers who want access to their EHR data don't necessarily want to store and manage the information themselves.

"We asked people why they hadn't stored their information in an online PHR and the immediate answer was, 'I expect my doctors to maintain it and collect it,'" said Levy.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 6:42:55 PM
re: Many Patients Love EHRs, Fear Storing Data Themselves
I see big opportunities for the services industries, perhaps even banking institutions who are already very serious about security and fraud to bridge the gap in hosting cloud based PHR's for customers, doctors, and insurance providers alike. All the consumer needs is a trusted source to manage their records while offering the dynamic ability to provide or close access to their information on consent. This is a win win model for everyone involved.
1. Managed health care organizations save millions each year trying to protect PHI.
2. Consumers are in control of who has access to their records. It also offers them a level of mobility in shutting out or exposing information when switching doctors or insurance providers.
3. New market for banks, who already manage flexible spending accounts for health care related expenses.
Lisa Henderson
Lisa Henderson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/18/2011 | 12:48:54 AM
re: Many Patients Love EHRs, Fear Storing Data Themselves
Yes, more and more people use technology, and more people want to be proactive about their health. I would say that managing these records alone...the actual time factor is something that these surveys overlook. No matter how easy the technology, it is difficult to organize records from multiple doctors and make it a holistic experience....imho.

Lisa Henderson, InformationWeek Healthcare, contributing editor
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