Few Americans Use E-Medical Records

June 21, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Email | Personalization | Pharma & Healthcare | Retail & E-Commerce | Technology

Fewer than one in 10 US adults contacts their doctor via email or utilizes electronic medical records, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

Usage, Awareness Rates Low
In addition to low usage rates of electronic access to their doctors and medical records, US adults have a low awareness these e-services even exist. Only slightly more than half of Harris Poll respondents even knew whether their doctor provided this type of electronic access to personal medical information.

Most Want E-access for Selves, Doctors
Despite low rates of usage and awareness of e-medical services, large segments of the US public favor e-access to medical records for themselves and their physicians. A total of 78% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that all physicians treating them should have access to data in their electronic medical records. Another 15% neither agree nor disagree, with only a combined 8% somewhat or strongly disagreeing.

In addition, 71% strongly or somewhat agree electronic medical records would be a valuable tool to track the progress of their health, with 21% neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Once again, only 8% somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement.


Feelings Mixed on Providing Access to Other Parties
Somewhat surprisingly, given large concerns regarding online data privacy and security, only 53% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree their health records are for their own use and should not be provided to other parties. Another 26% neither agree nor disagree. Disagreement with this statement is stronger than with the previous two, however, with 21% strongly or somewhat disagreeing.

A larger majority of respondents want to shield their electronic medical records from their health insurers. Only 30% strongly or somewhat agree their insurer should have access, with 27% neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 44% strongly or somewhat disagreeing.

Access to, Use of Technology Grow But Remain Low
The percentage of Americans who have access to and/or use e-medical record technology is low, although in some cases has quadrupled since 2006. Email reminders from doctors led all technologies with 11% of respondents using them and another 10% having access but not using them. These figures were 4 and 3%, respectively, in 2006.


Direct email communication with a doctor had the second-highest usage rate (9%) and highest rate of having access but not being used (12%). In 2006, these figures were both 4%. Other e-medical record technologies with relatively high rates of usage and access, such as internet scheduling and receiving test results via email, also are based on technologies that have been in general use for a long time.

In terms of actually having electronic medical records to capture their information, only 7% of respondents use them, with another 8% having access but not using them. These figures were 2 and 3%, respectively, in 2006. Usage of home monitoring devices that can electronically send information remains extremely low, but access has almost tripled. It is also worth noting that the percentage of respondents who are not sure if they use or have access to these technologies ranges from 19-37%.

Adults with Chronic Disease Often Offline
One factor which may be driving down usage and access rates for e-medical technology is that US adults with chronic disease are offline in disproportion to the general population, according to recent data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.

Eighty-one percent of adults reporting no chronic disease go online, compared to 62% of adults reporting one or more chronic diseases. Even when they do go online, adults managing chronic disease often use less current means of accessing the internet, and also use cell phones less frequently than healthy adults.

About the Data: This survey was conducted online within the US June 8-10, 2010 among 2,035 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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