Online Medical Record Nonuse Among Patients: Data Analysis Study of the 2019 Health Information National Trends Survey

Elkefi, Safa; Yu, Zhongyuan; Asan, Onur
Journal of Medical Internet Research

Background: Online medical records are being used to organize processes in clinical and outpatient settings and to forge doctor-patient communication techniques that build mutual understanding and trust.
Objective: We aimed to understand the reasons why patients tend to avoid using online medical records and to compare the perceptions that patients have of online medical records based on demographics and cancer diagnosis.
Methods: We used data from the Health Information National Trends Survey Cycle 3, a nationally representative survey, and assessed outcomes using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. The patients (N=4328) included in the analysis had experienced an outpatient visit within the previous 12 months and had answered the online behavior question regarding their use of online medical records.
Results: Patients who were nonusers of online medical records consisted of 58.36% of the sample (2526/4328). The highest nonuser rates were for patients who were Hispanic (460/683, 67.35%), patients who were non-Hispanic Black (434/653, 66.46%), and patients who were older than 65 years (968/1520, 63.6%). Patients older than 65 years were less likely to use online medical records (odds ratio [OR] 1.51, 95% CI 1.24-1.84, P<.001). Patients who were White were more likely to use online medical records than patients who were Black (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.43-2.05, P<.001) or Hispanic (OR 1.65, 95% CI 1.37-1.98, P<.001). Patients who were diagnosed with cancer were more likely to use online medical records compared to patients with no cancer (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.11-1.55, 95% CI 1.11-1.55, P=.001). Among nonusers, older patients (≥65 years old) preferred speaking directly to their health care providers (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.35-2.31, P<.001), were more concerned about privacy issues caused by online medical records (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.22-2.66, P<.001), and felt uncomfortable using the online medical record systems (OR 10.55, 95% CI 6.06-19.89, P<.001) compared to those aged 18-34 years. Patients who were Black or Hispanic were more concerned about privacy issues (OR 1.42, 1.09-1.84, P=.007).
Conclusions: Studies should consider social factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age when monitoring trends in eHealth use to ensure that eHealth use does not induce greater health status and health care disparities between people with different backgrounds and demographic characteristics.
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