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Patient Access to Hospital EHR Data Expands

Analysis  |  By Scott Mace  
   June 04, 2021

App-based inpatient access rose more than 50% between 2018 and 2019.

More and more hospitals are enabling patients to access their electronic health records via online portals and mobile apps, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

Seven in 10 hospitals now permit such access, according to a new ONC data brief evaluating conditions at the end of 2019.

Also that year, nearly every hospital enabled patients to electronically view their health information using a portal, ONC reported.

Three out of four hospitals allowed inpatients to view their clinical notes in the hospital's patient portal.

Small, rural, independent, and critical access hospitals had lower rates of access to this information, ONC said.

Rates of technology adoption were also highlighted in the report.

App-based inpatient access to information increased by more than 50% between 2018 and 2019, and the proportion of hospitals that let inpatients view their clinical notes increased by more than 30% between 2018 and 2019, ONC reported.

Among hospitals providing outpatient care, 97% let outpatients view their health information via a patient portal, 95% let them download their health information, and 75% enabled them to transmit their health information to a third party, according to the report.

Patients in outpatient settings can view their clinical notes at 82% of hospitals. Hospitals reported that 73% of patients in outpatient settings can access health information via apps.

Some variability on patient access exists within hospitals. Nine in 10 hospitals let patients view their health information across all outpatient care sites, and less than one in 10 hospitals enabled access across some outpatient sites.

The brand of EHR also varies within some hospitals. Three in 10 reported that they use different EHRs across practice sites. But the use of different EHRs yielded similar patient access to their data via apps as at hospitals that used the same EHR across outpatient sites.

But hospitals that used different EHRs across outpatient sites saw lower rates (3 in 4) of ability for patients to view their health information in a portal. Those hospitals that use the same EHR across outpatient sites saw all patients being able to access their health information via portals.

Scott Mace is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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