Patient Electronic Access to Medical Records, Providers Rises Significantly

Patient Access Health RecordThe paper medical record isn’t dead—yet, but a new report says the vast majority of U.S. hospitals now offer online access to medical records.

A July 2016 TrendWatch brief from the American Hospital Association (AHA) shows 92 percent of hospitals in 2015 offered patient’s online viewing of their medical records, compared to 43 percent in 2013.

84 percent of hospitals let patients download information from their records, up from 30 percent in 2013. Most hospitals now also allow patients to electronically request a change to their medical records and to send a summary of their records to a third party.

Patient Self-Service
The AHA report also tracks an increase in online self-service tools for everyday health care tasks, such as scheduling appointments, ordering prescription refills and making payments. In 2015:

  • 74 percent of hospitals provided the capability of paying bills online, up from 56 percent in 2013.
  • 45 percent of hospitals allowed patients to schedule appointments online, in comparison to 31 percent in 2013.
  • 44 percent of hospitals were able to allow patients to refill prescriptions online; 30 percent of patients could order refills in 2013.

Online Provider Access
A growing number of hospitals now provide ways for patients to communicate with their care providers between visits. In 2015, 63 percent of hospitals allowed patients to message their providers online, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2014.

A smaller, but increasing, percentage of hospitals allow their patients to submit patient-generated data to their provider online, which can help physicians monitor and evaluate the patient’s condition between visits. 37 percent of hospitals provided the ability for patients to submit data in 2015, up from 14 percent of hospitals in 2013.

In June, a Harris poll of patients conducted by Salesforce highlighted the growing importance of digital convenience and communication tools in healthcare.

The poll found 59 percent of all health-insured patients -- and 70 percent of Millennials (ages 18-34) -- would choose a primary care physician who offers a patient mobile app (allowing patients to make appointments, see bills, view health data, etc.) over one that does not.