EHRs becoming increasingly popular with patients, says study

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According to a recent survey by healthcare market research firm the Manhattan Group, 56 million Americans used a clinical informatics system to access their health records, and an additional 41 million are interested in doing so.

The report indicated that in addition to growing interest in patient access to medical informatics systems, the adoption of clinical informatics systems is set to increase as technology like tablet computers and cloud-based electronic health records (EHRs) becomes more widely available.

“Growth in access of [EHRs] by patients has been remarkable in the last year,” Meredith Ressi, president of the market research firm, said in a statement. “There’s been strong pent up demand from consumers over the years, but only now has the supply side caught up as a result of the government mandate. This is the beginning of a real shift in care delivery and patient engagement.”

Monique Levy, vice president of research at the Manhattan Group, told Information Week that although the figures published in the report indicate an increase in interest by patients, it was not clear how they had accessed the information.

It is possible that patients’ physicians made the screens of their clinical informatics system visible to their patients during a consultation, or provided them with their medical data on a disk or thumb drive. Doing so would still be in compliance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) meaningful use federal financial incentive guidelines.

Other information lacking from the report is exactly what types of medical data patients accessed from clinical informatics systems. Levy speculated that it was likely medical test results, as this could be of primary interest to patients.

Despite the interest in patient access to clinical informatics systems, there are approximately 140 million people who have little or no interest in accessing their medical data through an EHR. The Manhattan Group report states that this group is likely to be older and less inclined to use modern information technology, such as tablet computers and smartphones.