ONC Finds Disparities in Accessibility, Use of Health IT in 2013

June 4, 2015 in News

A new Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT data brief highlights several disparities in the accessibility and use of health IT in 2013, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 6/4).

Details of Data Brief

The data brief was based on findings from ONC’s 2013 Consumer Survey of Attitudes Toward the Privacy and Security of Aspects of Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchange (ONC data brief, June 2015). ONC noted that the data were collected before several efforts to increase online and health IT access were implemented, such as Stage 2 of the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Health Data Management, 6/4).

Data Brief Findings

Overall, the brief found that about four in 10 individuals in 2013 used some type of health IT (ONC data brief, June 2015).

ONC found that individuals’ use of health IT could be contingent on their providers’ adoption of such technologies. For instance, rates for online access to records, use of mobile health applications, emailing providers and reviewing test results online were three times higher among those who said their provider had adopted an EHR.

ONC said, “These findings provide evidence that providers’ adoption of EHRs may enhance individuals’ access and use of certain types of health IT.”

Meanwhile, the data brief found that lower-income, less-educated individuals in rural areas were less likely to:

  • Email their providers;
  • Review test results online; and
  • Use mobile health apps.

ONC also found disparities by race. For example, rates for emailing providers and reviewing test results online were lower among Hispanics than white non-Hispanic individuals.

Further, ONC found socio-economic disparities in use of online access to medical records.

However, the brief found no disparities among individuals text messaging their providers, possibly because of “the widespread availability and use of phones with text-messaging capability” and the lack of dependence on broadband Internet access, ONC said.

ONC was unable to review whether health coverage status and broadband access affected health IT access and use (Health Data Management, 6/4).

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