Access to online services increases, but not enough

UnknownDoctors’ offices are clearly enhancing patients’ opportunities to interact with the offices online. Since 2012, the number of patients who say their doctor offers a particular online communication service has increased across the board. Most notably, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”null”]one quarter (25%, up from 17% in 2012) of patients now indicate they have online access to their medical record,[/inlinetweet] including doctor visits, prescriptions, test results and history. Email access to doctors has grown as well, from just 12% of patients indicating they had access in 2012 to one in five (19%) today.

But while access is moving in the right direction, there are still far more patients awaiting these enhancements. Six in ten patients (59%) say they don’t have online access to their medical records but rate it important, and roughly half say the same about being able to reach their doctor via email.6a010535fa02f4970b0133f35d59a1970b-800wiThis holds true for other tested services as well, including:

  • Proactive communications from doctors to schedule preventative care appointments via email or text (16% have the service; 59% believe it’s important to have)
  • Online appointment setting (17% have; 52% important), and
  • Online billing and payments (15% have; 50% important).
  • The largest gap between access and perceived importance is for an online cost estimator that provides average costs for specific services, which is available to less than one in ten (7%) patients but important to over six in ten (62%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,368 general population U.S. adults, along with representative oversamples of 511 Hispanic Americans (interviewed in English and Spanish) and 179 Asian Americans (interviewed in English), surveyed online between September 9 and 17, 2015.