Few Consumers Had Online Access to Health Records in 2013

September 16, 2014 in News

Few consumers had online access to their medical records in 2013, according to an Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT data brief, Modern Healthcare‘s “Vital Signs” reports.

Data Brief Details

The ONC brief is based on data collected in 2013 through a survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago (Tahir, “Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/15). The survey involved a nationally representative sample of about 2,100 individuals and provides the “first comprehensive look at the state of consumer access and use of online health records,” according to a “Health IT Buzz” blog post (Patel/Siminerio, “Health IT Buzz,” 9/15).


The survey showed that about 28% of respondents were offered online access to their health records (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/15). ONC attributed the low rates to “providers’ limited capabilities prior to implementation of Stage 2 meaningful use,” which requires at least 5% of individuals provided with online access to their health information to “view, download or transmit their records at least once” (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 9/16).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Among those with online access to their records, the survey showed:

  • 46% of respondents accessed their records at least once (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 9/15);
  • 21% accessed their data once or twice in the past year;
  • 10% accessed their data six or more times in the past year; and
  • 54% did not access their data (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/15).

Respondents who did view their records online used the data in various ways. For example:

  • 75% said they used the data to monitor their health;
  • 40% said they shared the data with another individual, such as a family member or health care provider (FierceHealthIT, 9/15);
  • About 40% said they downloaded the data; and
  • About 10% said they sent data from their online record to another technology source, such as a mobile application or personal health record system (Health Data Management, 9/16).

Meanwhile, respondents who declined to access their medical records online said they had:

  • No need to view the data;
  • Privacy or security concerns with the website; and
  • No access to Internet.

Despite the low use, nearly 70% of respondents viewed having secure online access to their health records as very or somewhat important, including 62% of those who did not access their records (FierceHealthIT, 9/15).

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