U.S. Consumers Willing to Switch Physicians to Gain Online Access to Their EMR, Survey Shows


41% of U.S. consumers would be willing to switch physicians to gain online access to their own electronic medical records (EMR), according to a new survey released by Accenture. Roughly four out of five U.S. patients (84%) believe they should have full access to their electronic medical record while only a third of physicians (36%) share this belief.

More than half of U.S. patients have taken ownership of their health records by self-tracking their personal health information, including their health history (37%, physical activity (34%) and health indicators (33%), such as blood pressure and weight, yet only a third of U.S. patients (36%) currently have full access to their EMR.

“The rise of Meaningful Use mandates and a growing trend of self-care among consumers is shifting the role of an EMR from a mere clinical repository to a platform for shared decision-making among consumers and doctors,” said Kaveh Safavi M.D., J.D., managing director of Accenture’s North America health business.

“Early evidence suggests the benefits of allowing consumers to have greater access to their records can actually outweigh the risks,” added Safavi. “When consumers are part of the record-keeping process, it can increase their understanding of conditions, improve motivation and serve as a clear differentiator for clinical care.”

The trend toward online health information access may be hard to forestall, even though physicians themselves want to hold back. As more patients buy health insurance online, and apply for earned benefit programs like Medicaid through online eligibility systems, having health information at hand will be necessary. Other initiatives like health care price transparency may affect patient decisions, especially when armed with medical record information.