Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Online access to personal health records is important to patient engagement

Patients want to be able to access their personal health information more easily and therefore have a more active role in their healthcare.

That finding was the key point in a survey by CDW Healthcare, a source for healthcare IT trends, information and resources headquartered in Vernon Hills, Illinois. In its Patient Engagement Perspectives, CDW surveyed 200 patients and 200 healthcare providers to better understand how needs, challenges, and motivators differ between the two groups and how they affect patient engagement, according to a release.

Of the patient respondents, 78% said they’d  like to be able to access their personal health records more easily, citing the top benefits as being able to become more knowledgeable about their own medical information (48%), saving time (45%), and increased engagement due to personal healthcare management (41%).

Although only 35% of the patient respondents said they noticed their providers’ efforts to engage patients, of that group over half (62%) said the main way their provider is increasing engagement is by offering the ability to sign up for an online patient portal. Meanwhile, 20% said their provider is boosting engagement by creating a mobile application to access health information.

Providers have taken notice of this, the survey found, with 67% of providers saying they are working on ways to make personal health information easier for their patients to obtain.

Furthermore, 68% of patients said they would submit personal, real-time healthcare information to their provider in order to improve their health, the survey found.

While online health tools such as patient portals may help with patient engagement, they may contribute to health disparities, a study by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found.  Users of the online patient portal are most likely to be white, married, young, on private insurance and with a higher neighborhood median household income.