Patients still unsure about EHRs

Though health care providers continue to embrace electronic health records, patients are having a harder time doing so.

But that might be because they don’t know much about them.

According to a new Xerox survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, only 29 percent of those who have a doctor have been informed their medical records will be converted to digital format.

While that knowledge base shows a 13-point improvement from four years ago, the survey results continued to show consumers’ hesitance over EHR use. The majority of Americans (83 percent) have concerns about EHRs — such as security, and only 32 percent want their medical records to be digital.

Only 19 percent of the U.S. adults today have access to their medical records online, the survey found.

The Obama administration has offered incentives to doctors who adopt EHRs, and assessed penalties to those who do not. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said EHRs they will “improve the way care is delivered while lowering costs.”

“The juxtaposition here is that since the HITECH Act became law four years ago, healthcare providers have made tremendous strides in adopting EHRs, but there has been little to no change in Americans’ acceptance of digital medical records,” said Charles Fred, president of health care provider solutions at Xerox. “Patients will soon have more access to their personal health information than ever before, but they need to be educated by providers on how this will empower them to take charge of their own care.”

But there’s hope, the survey found, because Americans “do see some benefits of EHRs.”

More than half of consumers (62 percent) said they think EHRs will reduce overall health care costs and 73 percent believe  EHRs will improve the quality of service they receive from their health care provider, respectively up 2 percent and 3 percent from last year.

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