PHRs – A Difficult Pill to Digest?

A report from Manhattan Research earlier this month had some interesting statistics on consumer access to electronic medical records. According to the report, 56 million Americans accessed the patient records available from their medical providers’ EMRs, and another 41 million said they were interested in viewing their medical records online. Manhattan Research gets this information from surveying 8745 adults online and by phone in Q3 2011. Assuming the statistical basis for extrapolating this survey of 8745 people to the entire US population is sound (Nielsen does something similar to arrive at its daily media numbers), that’s a good 97 million people who are interested enough to have already accessed their records or are interested enough to, if given a chance.

But you know what’s the surprising tidbit? 140 million Americans have not used and are not interested in viewing their own medical records online! Predictably enough the report attributes this massive reluctance to an older or less tech-savvy population. I’m not sure how this will play out with the less tech-savvy population. With the older generation, this might just translate to access and maintenance of personal PHRs falling on authorized proxies – caregivers or adult children. Maybe this will span an entirely new profession – personal health advisers of sorts – whose sole job is to view your online medical records, explain them in plainspeak and research and offer up options. Certainly something to think about!

About the author


Priya Ramachandran

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.


  • Seems like this survey is missing an important nuance. The nuance is defining what’s considered the patient record. I think if you were to ask if a patient wants to see their medical record that the doctor has created you’d get a very different answer than if you asked if they want to see the medical record that they create.

    Either way, there’s a long uphill battle for PHR’s to be successful.

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