Chronically ill patients want online access to medical records

May 30, 2014

Ability to access medical data outweighs privacy risks

 

More than two-thirds (69%) of U.S. consumers with chronic health conditions believe patients should have the right to access all of their healthcare information, and roughly half (51%) believe that accessing their medical records online outweighs the privacy risks, according to a new survey by Accenture.

From February 21 through March 16, 2014, Accenture and Penn Schoen Berland conducted a survey among 10,730 consumers across 10 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, Norway, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Access outweighs privacy

The analysis is based on data from the 2,011 respondents in the United States and, where applicable, compares the perceptions of healthy individuals to those with one or more of the following chronic conditions: asthma,
arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, clinically diagnosed obesity, osteoporosis and stroke. 

Roughly half of Americans with chronic conditions, such as heart disease, COPD and diabetes, believe that the benefits of EMR-accessing medical data outweighs privacy risks. 

 

 

Patients want control

The survey also found chronic patients were slightly less concerned about the privacy of medical data than they were about other personal information that is stored digitally, such as online banking, online shopping and credit card use in stores. 

In addition, findings show that chronic patients want control of their health information (87%), yet more than half (55%) believe they do not have very much control-or any control at all. 

The survey also showed that, depending on the type of chronic illness they have, there are differences in a person’s ability to exercise some level of control over his or her healthcare data. 

For example, nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers with heart disease reported having some level of control compared to only 49% of individuals with COPD.

“For managed care executives, these findings underscore the importance of including and actively engaging chronic patients in every stage of the care process,” says Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, Accenture’s global health lead. 

 

 

Prioritize engagement

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 47% of Americans have at least one chronic disease, yet they account for 76% of all physician visits.

“The more engaged these patients are in their health and disease management-including through EMR access-the more we can reduce healthcare costs and better provide care,” says Dr. Safavi. “Additionally, as the healthcare industry shifts to accommodate stage two of the Meaningful Use requirements, we’ll see increased levels of patient EMR use. That means physicians can anticipate that more and more patients, especially those with chronic disease, will be accessing their records online.” 

Healthcare will need to adapt to a new generation of individuals who are talking a more proactive role in managing their health and expect to have transparency, Dr.
Safavi says. 

“As consumers continue to demand more access to their personal data online, we expect that patients will gain more power to manage some aspects of their own care. This will not only make healthcare more effective but also more affordable, as consumers doing more for themselves will free up the system to be more productive,” he says.