Significant progress has been made toward providing all patients with access to their ePHI, according to a recent report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
Back in 2012, only 24% of non-acute care hospitals allowed patients to view their ePHI. The percentage of hospitals now allowing access to ePHI has risen to 95%; an increase of 4% since last year, and 55% since 2013.
The ONC’s figures show that there was a similar rise in hospitals that allow patients to download their ePHI. In 2012, only 14% of hospitals allowed ePHI downloads by patients. The percentage rose to 28% in 2013, to 82% in 2014. Now 87% of hospitals allow ePHI downloads by patients. 69% of hospitals also allow patients to transmit ePHI, compared to just 10% in 2013.
Progress is also being made with other types of patient engagement capabilities. The percentage of hospitals allowing patients to send or receive secure messages increased from 51% in 2014 to 63% in 2015. 74% of hospitals now allow bills to be paid online, and 77% allow patients to request amendments to their health data online.
Fewer hospitals allow the electronic submission of patient-generated data, although there has been a threefold increase in hospitals that allow this since 2013. Currently 37% of hospitals allow patients to submit their data online.
Fewer than half of hospitals allow patients to request appointments online (44%) and only 42% allow patients to request refills: An increase of 15% in the availability of both online functions since 2013.
While the report shows that the number of electronic patient engagement capabilities are increasing – 9 out of 10 hospitals now offer 4 or more electronic patient engagement capabilities – small and medium-sized hospitals and critical access hospitals are lagging behind larger hospitals and are not providing as many electronic capabilities to patients.
The ONC report also notes that convenience functions are not offered to patients nearly as much as those that relate to HIPAA or the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs or billing. However, nationwide, the number of patient engagement functionalities has increased significantly and it is important that the trend continues.
According to Talisha Searcy, director of research and evaluation for the office of planning, evaluation and analysis at the ONC, “ONC continues to work with health IT developers, individuals, and clinicians alike to keep the momentum going when it comes to patient access to health information where and when it is needed most.”