Most Americans appear to view electronic health records (EHR) as a welcome convenience, but not as a game-changing medical advance. That's what one can glean from a recent survey of patients conducted by HealthMine.

The poll of 500 insured adults found that 60 percent have access to an electronic health record, but only 22 percent of those with an EHR say they use it to guide their medical decisions. The great majority of patients say they rely on the technology as a way to "stay informed."

Other results:

  • 71 percent of those with EHRs say they access the records when needed

  • 15 percent say it's hard to understand the information presented

  • 14 percent never access their EHR

Of course, not all EHRs are created equal. Some patients report only having access to a limited amount of information, and others say they are not able to see that same information as their doctor:

  • 69 percent can see lab work/blood tests

  • 60 percent see their prescriptions

  • 55 percent view their billing information

  • 47 percent see notes from their physician

Bryce Williams, CEO of HealthMine, suggested that many patients have not yet fully grasped the value of EHRs. Educating people on how to benefit from them could be an important part of wellness programs, he said.

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