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E-mail Use by Patients

Less than 1 in 10 utilize this option for contacting their healthcare providers.

A Harris Interactive and Health Day poll of 2,035 adults living in the USA , conducted online from June 8-10, 2010, found that less than one in ten Americans have electronic medical records or use e-mail to contact their healthcare providers. Nearly half of those who completed the survey did not know if their healthcare providers had e-mail capability. Most indicated that they would like to have an electronic medical record that both providers and patients could access, and about two-thirds felt that their health insurance companies should not have access to their medical records.

Adoption of EHRs and e-mail communication technology has been slow for several reasons. In addition to the high cost of EHR systems, healthcare providers also have concerns about the security of the systems and ease of use. E-mail capability should be quite feasible for healthcare providers to offer; however, only about 9% of patients have healthcare providers offering this method of communication.

Healthcare experts predict that EHRs will routinely be implemented in the near future. One incentive spurning their use is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ plan to reduce payments to healthcare providers who do not utilize EHRs. It will be interesting to see how many providers adopt the technology—or take the pay cut instead.