56 million patients access information through EHRs

Twenty-four percent of U.S. patients, or 56 million people, were found to have accessed their medical information on an electronic health record this year. That number compares to only 5% of patients who used an EHR last year.

The recent findings come from Cybercitizen Health, an annual study by Manhattan Research, a global pharmaceutical and healthcare market research and strategic advisory firm.

“We were actually quite surprised that the number had risen so quickly,” Monique Levy, vice president of research at Manhattan Research, said. The rise correlates with an increase in the number of physicians adopting EHRs, a finding that comes from Taking the Pulse, a separate study by the firm.

Cybercitizen Health also reported that 41 million Americans are interested in accessing their health information via EHR. On the other hand, the study found that 140 million patients haven’t used an EHR and aren’t interested in doing so. Those that made up this group of people were older and were less likely to use smartphones, tablets or the Internet.

While Levy thinks it’s likely that the number of people accessing their health information electronically will continue to rise, she doesn’t think there will be many converts from the group of 140 million who say they don’t want to use an EHR. “I think for them it’s a tougher sell,” she said. “They need to see a concrete benefit.”

The study doesn’t specify how patients accessed their information. This could have been done in a number of ways, including through a patient portal, or a doctor could have printed their data off. The research group plans to ask more about the method of access the next time it performs the study.

Levy said the 56 million represent the early adopters of EHR technology, a group that is generally proactive in managing its health. Accessing medical history is in line with many patients’ efforts to become more engaged. “This may concretely mark the beginning of a more involved patient,” Levy said.

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