Report: Patients often can't access medical records

By staff writers

September 19, 2017 -- A survey sponsored by cloud-based image management software firm Ambra Health found that nearly one in three healthcare consumers can't easily access their medical records. In addition, only half of survey respondents could view their medical records online via their healthcare provider.

The survey included 1,136 U.S. healthcare consumers who have received medical imaging services and was conducted online by research company Toluna in the second quarter of 2017. Of the respondents, 77% either trusted cloud technology or were not concerned by it, according to Ambra. This trend was particularly evident in younger patients; 74% of millennials trusted the cloud, compared with 44% of boomers. There was also a gender gap, with 66% of men and 52% of women reporting that they trusted the cloud. Both genders had low levels of distrust, however.

Currently, 57% of patients reported still using CDs to move imaging studies from one provider to another. For 44% of patients, it takes a day or more to move these medical images, Ambra said. Among other findings, 72% of patients indicated that referrals were their primary way of finding a provider, topping their health insurance network, word of mouth, or online research, the company said. However, 42% of respondents reported that they conduct research online when selecting a provider.

Regardless of age and gender, two-thirds of respondents said that online scheduling is key to patient engagement. This is particularly important for younger patients, as 80% of millennials cited ease of medical record access and scheduling as a key consideration. Only 52% of boomers felt this was important, however.

Overall, 73% of healthcare consumers preferred that all of their medical data be accessible via a standard website or mobile device. This includes easy online access to imaging data such as x-ray, CT, ultrasound, and echocardiography -- often omitted today from online patient portals, Ambra said.

Of the respondents, 80% indicated they would like to have access to their medical imaging studies alongside their test results, implying the need for increased annotation and reports that can be easily understood by patients, Ambra said. Only 17% said they could easily access or share their medical imaging exams online.

Copyright © 2017

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