As the national medical community moves rapidly toward integrated electronic records, the face of medicine continues to change dramatically. Everything from x-ray results to HFCA 1500 claim forms has gone digital, and doctors across the country are implementing computerized records systems at unprecedented rates. According to a recent study released last month by Manhattan Research. The firm estimates that some 56 million patients throughout the Unites States have accessed their personal health information by logging into various electronic records system maintained by their doctors. A further 41 million are said to have interest in doing so, should the option be provided by their physicians. But perhaps unexpected was the finding that the majority of U.S. adults, an estimated 140 million people, have neither accessed their online medical records, nor have any interest in doing do in the future.
These figures were extrapolated from a survey taken during the summer of 2011, during which Manhattan Research contacted 9,000 American adults to learn about their relationship with health IT. Unsurprisingly, the study concluded that younger, more affluent, and more educated adults (the demographic most comfortable with computers and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets) were the most likely to log into their physicians’ electronic medical records systems to view lab results, make appointments, and ask questions. Older adults and those with less education were less likely to access their records. In most cases, those uninterested in having access did not use the Internet on a regular basis.
The survey did not gather sufficient information to determine which Internet-enabled devices were most often used to access medical records, nor did the survey ask what tasks were most commonly associated with records access. However, there is other research to suggest that patient engagement in healthcare has risen sharply as the use of mobile devices has become a new standard. Tools such as patient portals are now in the hands of the patient wherever he or she goes, making it easier than ever to actively participate in healthcare. In January of 2011, an Intuit survey of 1,000 American adults found that a whopping 73 percent would use an online tool to request prescriptions, and that nearly 60 percent would fill out HFCA 1500 claim forms and other medical forms online. More than half of those polled said they would review and pay medical bills online, and 62 percent would obtain lab results electronically. As time goes on, the percentage of American adults with computer literacy will continue to rise, and the trends of EMRs and patient engagement in healthcare are expected to have significant effect on medicine as we know it.