- Health systems and IT vendors are doing little to market their efforts to give patients better electronic access to their health records, and those patients don't have clear incentives to obtain their data through phone apps, according to research published this week in JAMA Open.
- Researchers did find, however, growing numbers of patients accessing their information through application programming interfaces (APIs) at 12 early adopting health systems using Epic EHRs.
- The study authors said they "sought to create national measures of patient uptake of this newly available ability to establish a baseline against which to measure future progress and ecosystem evolution."
CMS and HHS' health IT arm, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, have been pushing for more transparency and patient control over health data, including a strong push for more API usage. In interoperability regulations proposed earlier this year, the agency suggesting requiring health plans to share patient claims data through an API.
The agency recently launched a pilot program it hopes will eventually roll out an API to all Medicare fee-for-service providers giving them access to historical Medicare claims data.
Lawmakers have also jumped at this idea for giving patients full access to their electronic medical records.
ONC has considered requiring health information networks to support Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) APIs, which the American Hospital Association backs. ONC dropped the requirement, however, in its second draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), a proposed "on-ramp" to nationwide connectivity.
The researchers from the University of California School of Medicine looked at health systems using the APIs across the country, but noted awareness of such tech is still relatively low across the board.
Indeed, research from ONC has shown most patients have not yet warmed to the idea of looking at their health records electronically. A report from April found while more than 90% of U.S. nonfederal acute care hospitals allow patients to view and download their record online, two-thirds of hospitals said fewer than 25% of patients activated access to a patient portal.
ONC has also found the overall percentage of patients offered online access to their medical records has stagnated at just above 50%.