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Most young patients say EHRs have improved care quality according to new survey

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Healthcare quality and data security are typical concerns for primary care patients. However, the level of those concerns differs between various age groups, according to a Data Note published recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Data Note: Public’s Experiences with Electronic Health Records,” published in March 2019, examines data from the January 2019 KFF Health Tracking Poll.

Overall, patients say they are experiencing increased use of electronic health records (EHRs) among their primary care physicians as well as their other health providers. As the Data Note describes, “EHRs have become ubiquitous.” Patients responding to the poll indicate that an increasing number of providers are entering medical information into a “computer-based medical record.” In fact, the number has almost doubled in the past 10 years, from 46 percent in 2009 to 88 percent in 2019.

Across all ages, a little less than half of the patients participating in the poll state their “physician’s use of an EHR has made the quality of care they receive and their interactions with their physician “better” (45 percent and 44 percent, respectively).” However, those patients ages 18-29 have a more positive view of provider EHR use, with a majority (57%) saying the quality of care they receive when their physicians use EHRs is “better” and none say that it is “worse.”

Interactions with patients are also viewed as “better” by slightly more patients in the younger age group. While the number is 44% overall, 49% of patients ages 18-29 believe their interaction with their healthcare provider is “better” when that physician uses EHRs and only 1% see it as “worse.”

As to privacy and security, only 42% of patients ages 18-29 participating in the 2019 Health Tracking Poll were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that their medical record could be accessed by an unauthorized person. That number increased to over half for participants in older age groups.

KFF has been tracking patients’ perceptions of EHRs since 2009, when the debate over healthcare reform began.