Barriers to accessing online medical records in the United States

Am J Manag Care. 2021 Jan;27(1):33-40. doi: 10.37765/ajmc.2021.88575.


Objectives: Patients' access to and use of online medical records (OMRs) can facilitate better management of their health and health care. However, health care disparities continue to exist. This study aimed to (1) determine the prevalence and predictors of individuals being offered access to OMRs, (2) identify predictors of individuals accessing their OMR, and (3) describe barriers to accessing one's OMR.

Study design: Secondary analyses of cross-sectional data from Health Information National Trends Survey 5, cycles 1 and 2 (n = 6670).

Methods: Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine the association between sociodemographic and health care-related factors on being offered access to OMRs, accessing OMRs, and cited reasons for not accessing OMRs.

Results: In 2017-2018, 54% of US adults reported having been offered access to OMRs, and among those offered, 57% reported accessing their records. The groups who were less likely to be offered OMRs included men, middle-aged adults, members of racial/ethnic minority groups, individuals with lower education and household incomes, those who do not use the internet, and those living in rural areas. Respondents who were less likely to access their OMRs despite being offered included individuals with lower education and household incomes and rural residents. Among the 43% who did not access their records, the primary reason for not accessing was their preference to speak to their provider directly.

Conclusions: Sociodemographic and health care-related factors are associated with variation in use of OMRs. To realize the intended value of OMR use for patients, it is important to address barriers to OMR access and integrate OMRs into patient-provider communication and clinical care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Ethnicity*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups*
  • Rural Population
  • United States