Patients' concern about access to medical records is paramount, says survey

By Molly Merrill
12:38 PM

Patients worry about not being able to access their paper medical records when they need them the most, placing that above concerns about whether their records contain inaccuracies or are stolen, according to a new survey.

The survey, which polled 500 female adults and 500 male adults on their paper medical records, was conducted by GfK Roper for Practice Fusion, a San Francisco-based EHR company.

According to the survey, inability to access medical records remained consistent as the top concern (26.7 percent) across all patient income levels, genders and regions.

Not having access to their medical records, was placed above other concerns such as:

  • Records that contain inaccurate or outdated information (19.2 percent)
  • Records that are stolen or used fraudulently (16 percent)
  • Records that are lost or destroyed by accident (13.1 percent)
  • Records that won't be accessible to an emergency room (12.2 percent)
  • Records that won't carry over to a new doctor (11.9 percent)

The findings highlight the potential for participatory medicine and personal health records in coming years, say experts. The participatory medicine movement promotes the concept of clinical transparency between patients, caregivers and medical providers. Health IT is seen as being a major driver in the shift toward participatory medicine, with EHR and PHR systems eliminating the administrative burden of faxing/copying medical records and allowing patient data to be accessible in real-time online.

A recent study led by a research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) found that patients were willing to give up some privacy of health information for increased access to full online medical records.

"Patients are willing to trade some privacy in order to have records fully available in emergency settings and available to new caregivers as well as to multiple clinicians," said Jan Walker, instructor in medicine in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School in a release about the study.

"The message is clear: patients want access to their medical records, and they want it now," said Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion.