64 percent of Americans do not currently use online patient portals, according to the results of Xerox’s 5th annual EHR Survey. The survey revealed that 57 percent of Americans would be much more interested and proactive in their personal healthcare if they had online access to their medical records. Of those Americans that don’t use patient portals, 35 percent did not know a portal was available and 31 percent said their physician had never spoken to them about portals.
Based on requirements set out by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, providers can earn Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 federal incentives if they demonstrate that five percent of patients are using secure portals to view, download and transmit their health information. CMS lowered the objective from 10 percent to 5 percent when it published its MU Stage 2 final rule. Although less than 720 hospitals have met MU Stage 2 requirements so far, the survey shows an appetite among Americans to use the portals.
“With providers facing regulatory changes, mounting costs, and patients who increasingly seek access to more information, our survey points to an opportunity to address issues by simply opening dialogue with patients about patient portals,” said Tamara St. Claire, chief innovation officer, Commercial Healthcare for Xerox in a statement. “Educating patients will empower them to participate more fully in their own care while helping providers demonstrate that electronic health records are being used in a meaningful way.”
Survey results suggest that healthcare providers could make strides toward meeting MU Stage 2 requirements and improving care by focusing on the portal needs of Millennials (ages 18 to 34 in this survey) and Baby Boomers (ages 55+ in this survey). Here’s how:
– A mobile generation, Millennials are more likely to report the highest preference in accessing patient portals on the go (43 percent on smartphones).
– Millennials are more interested in their medical records (57 percent) than any other content on online patient portals.
– They also want to be able to view personalized recommendations to improve their health (44 percent), information about additional services from their doctor (44 percent), and industry news about health topics of interest to them (23 percent).
– Two of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions, and treatment for this population accounts for 66 percent of the country’s healthcare budget. With a rising need for care, Boomers are ripe for provider engagement.
– Many Boomers who do not use portals say they would be much more engaged in their care if they received access to medical information online (56 percent of those ages 55 to 64, and 46 percent of those ages 65 or older).
– Boomers ages 55 to 64 accounted for the highest percentage (83 percent) of Americans who say they already do or would communicate with healthcare providers via a patient portal.
– In that same group, 70 percent say they do or would schedule appointments; 64 percent access/review medical records/test results; 60 percent ask their physicians questions; 58 percent order prescription refills, and 40 percent request a referral.
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Xerox from Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, 2014, among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older (among which 1,250 do not use online patient portals and 767 do use online patient portals). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.