Poll Finds that Few Americans Use EMRs, E-mail


Despite years of hype, EMR adoption is still low among patients. A new poll finds that less than one in 10 American adults use electronic records or e-mail with physicians, and half aren't sure if their physician offers these services.

Despite years of hype around the issue, EMR adoption is still low, among both physicians and patients.

A year after the New England Journal of Medicine released a study stating that only about 8% of the 3,000 hospitals surveyed used even a basic EMR, a new poll finds that less than one in 10 American adults now utilize electronic records or turn to e-mail to contact their doctor.

According to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive/HealthDay, nearly half of respondents weren’t even sure if their physician offered these technologies.

And although most of those polled said they would like their doctors to access their medical records electronically, only 30% believe their insurer should have that same access. Overall, “the general public only has a vague idea, only a very limited understanding, of what all this is about,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive.

The poll was conducted online from June 8-10 among 2,035 U.S. adults.

In 2009, 78 percent of adults indicated that they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that physicians should have access to their electronic records, which represents a 2% drop from a 2007 poll. However, only 9% of patients can communicate with their doctors by e-mail, up from 4% in 2006; 8% are able to schedule a physician visit online (up from 3% in 2006); and 8% can get diagnostic test results by e-mail (up from 2%).

Interestingly, only 28% of those polled thought their physicians used EMRs, but 42% said they didn't know if their primary care physician had the technology.

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