Millennials want personal health records on the go

Poll shows targeted outreach to Gen Y and Boomers could help with meaningful use readiness
By Mike Miliard
10:57 AM
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Young adults with smartphones

Could younger patients be the key to achieving Stage 2 meaningful use patient access requirements? A new report finds strong desire for online medical records among the 18- to 34-year-old generation, with 43 percent of millennials saying they want to access their portals via smartphone.

In its fifth annual survey on the usage of electronic health records, Xerox sees more and more Americans expecting and demanding online access to health data. While aging Baby Boomers are showing keen interest in online access, Millennials are also increasingly expecting they can see their medical information where and when they want it.

[See also: PHRs aren't working: tips on fixing them]

The poll shows that the younger generation is much more interested in their medical records (to the tune of 57 percent) than any other content contained in online patient portals. They also say they'd like more personalized recommendations to improve their health and tips about additional services from their doctor (44 percent each).

The survey of 2,017 U.S. adults found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those polled don't use online patient portals at all; still, more than half of that group (57 percent) say they'd be much more interested and proactive in their personal healthcare if they had online access to their medical records.

[See also: Patients want more from their EHRs]

Many patients are unaware that such tools even exist, according to the report. Among those who don't use patient portals, 35 percent didn't know they were available to them and 31 percent said their physician had never mentioned them. Among Americans who do use PHRs, meanwhile, 59 percent say they have been much more interested and proactive in their personal healthcare since they received access.

"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 of Xerox's commercial healthcare division, in a press statement.

With Stage 2 meaningful use's 5 percent view/download/transmit requirements still vexing many providers, the survey suggests that better educating both Millennials and Baby Boomers about portals could help increase patient engagement, accoding to Xerox.

If Millennials expect easy and mobile access to health records and wellness data, Boomers are more interested in using online access to manage their chronic conditions -- and in even greater numbers than younger, arguably more tech-savvy patients -- the poll shows:

  • Those who don't use PHRs say they'd be 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).
  • Those 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.
  • Some 70 percent of Boomers 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.

Providers able to guide "different generations to take advantage of the information available at their fingertips" could see gains in meaningful use readiness and chronic disease management, said St. Claire 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."