Americans Slow to Adopt EMR, Poll Shows

Fewer than 1 in 10 American patients use electronic medical records (EMR) or contact their physicians via e-mail, according to a new poll by Harris Interactive.

Researchers said the findings suggest a discrepancy between the Obama administration’s initial investment in electronic medical records and the public’s readiness to fully incorporate them into medical care.

The online poll questioned 2035 adults from June 8 through June 10. Although Americans are generally in favor of electronic medical records, the results of the poll showed that:

  • Only 7% currently use an electronic medical record.
  • Only 9% use e-mail to communicate with their physicians, and only 8% use it to access test results.
  • 42% aren’t sure whether their physician’s office has the technology to support electronic medical records.
  • 30% don’t want their insurance company to have access to their personal electronic medical records.
  • 53% believe their medical records are “for their use only,” and should not be provided to other parties.

Privacy is a topmost concern for most patients, and may be the primary barrier keeping Americans from asking their physicians about electronic medical records. Another barrier may simply be a lack of adequate communication between EMR advocates and the average person, according to Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll.

“The general public only has a vague idea, only a very limited understanding, of what all this is about,” said Taylor. Unless a concerted effort is made to engage patients in the process of implementation, President Obama may have to delay his ambitious goal—to have electronic medical records available for every American by 2014.