Sharing of Health Data with Patients: 95% of Hospitals Now Offer ePHI Access

The Department of Health and Human Services has been encouraging patients to take a more active role in their own healthcare and to engage more with their healthcare providers. Not only will this help to improve patient outcomes, it will also help to reduce healthcare costs.

Healthcare organizations have also been encouraged to improve patient engagement, in part by ensuring that patients can easily access their ePHI. Under the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, healthcare providers should allow patients not only to view their health data, but also to download copies and transmit those data to any healthcare provider of their choosing.

This week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released statistics showing the progress that has been made and the extent to which electronic capabilities for patient engagement have been implemented by U.S. hospitals.

According to the data brief, significant progress has been made. The vast majority of U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals are now allowing patients online access to their ePHI. There has also been a significant increase in the number of hospitals that are now allowing patients to view, download, and transmit ePHI.

Since 2012, the percentage of non-federal acute care hospitals that allow patients to electronically view their health information has increased from 24% to 95%. Between 2013 and 2015, there was also a sevenfold increase in the percentage of hospitals that allow patients to view, download, and transmit their ePHI.

Back in 2013, there were no states that had more than 40% of hospitals offering patients the ability to view, download, and transmit ePHI. Now, there are no states with less than 40% of hospitals offering these electronic capabilities.

Nine states now have 80% of their hospitals offering all three electronic capabilities, while in 2013, six of those states had fewer than 20% of hospitals offering those capabilities. Across the nation as a whole, seven out of ten hospitals now offer all three capabilities to patients. Almost 8 out of 10 large non-acute care hospitals and 6 out of 10 critical access hospitals have all three capabilities, although many small to medium-sized hospitals are lagging behind.

The ONC reports suggests the massive improvement is largely down to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, in particular the requirements of stage 2 of the program.

Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals that Provide Patients with the Capability to Electronically View, Download, and Transmit Health Data




Source: ONC/AHA

The ONC reports that other electronic capabilities for patient engagement have also increased. Between 2013 and 2015, there was a significant decrease in hospitals offering 3 or less electronic engagement functionalities, and a significant increase in hospitals offering 7 or more functionalities.

The percentage of hospitals that allow the submission of patient-generated data rose from 13% to 37% between 2013 and 2015. Hospitals offering the ability to send or receive secure text messages increased from 51% to 63% over the same period. The ability to pay bills online increased from 55% to 74%, the option of scheduling appointments online rose from 29% to 44%, and the ability to request refills rose from 27% to 42%. There was also a major increase in the number of hospitals allowing patients to request amendments to their records, with an increase from 33% in 2013 to 77% in 2015.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.