Bigfoot or medical records: Which is easier for patients to find?

Patients want their health records, but finding them when they want them proves elusive

A survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers finds that the vast majority of them (92%) want quick and easy access to their medical records, but only 45% can get them from a patient portal, while only 42% can get them from a doctor’s office when they need them.

The survey, by health care technology company DrFirst, examined the experiences of storing and accessing medical records for individuals and family members.

“Having a way to access health information through a portal is not the same as having that access when an urgent medical need arises for yourself or a loved one,” said Colin Banas, MD, MHA, chief medical officer for DrFirst. “To speed care in an emergency, a health care provider you haven’t seen before may need to review a recent X-Ray or MRI report. Given that the average adult juggles six patient portal accounts simultaneously, it’s not surprising that people have so much trouble managing their health records and accessing them when needed.”

In addition, 54% of those surveyed say that managing their health records is difficult. As a result, patients keep paper printouts (36%), don’t store them at all (32%), use an app (23%), or save copies on their computer (17%).

The study also revealed that the ability to share important health information with family members and caregivers when needed is challenging, with 52% saying it is difficult or impossible to do so.

Health record portability is also an issue, with 41% of Americans concerned about their ability to access their health records when traveling or away from home.