AHA: 37 percent of hospitals let patients submit patient-generated health data last year

By Jonah Comstock
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Data sharing between patients and hospitals, in various forms, is on the rise according to a new report from the American Hospital Association, based on a 2015 survey of more than 3,500 hospitals. Among the findings are that 92 percent of hospitals offer patients the ability to view their medical records, up from 89 percent in 2014, and 37 percent offer patients some way to transmit patient-generated health data, compared to 30 percent in 2014.

"Hospitals are offering individuals more electronic access to their medical information than ever before," the AHA wrote . "Patients also have a growing ability to interact with their providers and to perform routine tasks online. As more hospitals are able to offer these services, individuals will have more insight into their medical data and the ability to interact with care providers at times and in ways that are convenient for the patient."

The ability to submit patient-generated health data online doubled between 2013 and 2014, from 14 percent to 30 percent. In 2015 it hit 37 percent. While most of the other questions specifically mentioned the activity as being "online" or done "electronically", The PGHD question was a bit more open-ended: "Are patients treated in your hospital able to do the following... Submit patient-generated data (e.g., blood glucose, weight)."

The general trend seemed to be relatively slight increases in data access capabilities between 2014 and 2015, after big jumps between 2013 and 2014. For instance, while patient access to medical records only went from 89 to 92 percent between 2014 and 2015, it was at 37 percent in the AHA's 2013 survey. 

Other capabilities followed a similar trend line. In 2013, 30 percent of hospitals allowed patients to download information from their medical record. That number was 80 percent in 2014 and 84 percent in 2015. The percentage of hospitals that allowed patients to request a change to their medical record went from 35 percent in 2013 to 71 percent in 2014 and 78 percent in 2015. Finally, 13 percent of hospitals in 2013 allowed patients to send a referral summary to a third party. That number jumped to 65 percent in 2014 and 70 percent last year.

Online appointment scheduling grew steadily over the last three years, starting at 31 percent in 2013 then growing to 40 percent in 2014 and 45 percent last year. Online bill pay is up to 74 percent in 2015, up from 66 percent in 2014 and just 56 percent in 2013. And just 44 percent of hospitals in 2015 offered online prescription refills, barely up from 43 percent in 2014, but a big gain on the 30 percent that offered it in 2013.

One new question that the AHA added in their 2014 survey was whether patients could securely message providers. In 2014, 55 percent offered that functionality. Last year, it was up to 63 percent.