The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Foundation today released the results of a new survey uncovering widespread confusion among Americans when it comes to their health information. The survey found that 3 in 4 Americans do not leave their doctor’s office on a positive note for reasons that include disappointment in the level of Q&A they have with their doctor, confusion about their health, and a need to do more research. This lack of understanding is shared by most Americans, with nearly 2 in 3 respondents admitting they are not extremely confident in their understanding of the health information they discuss with their doctor.
AHIMA Foundation – Who We Are
AHIMA Foundation – Who We Are
Access to and understanding of health records and information is critical to consumer health management. Unfortunately, more than half of respondents (52%) report that they rarely access their medical records to review their health information. In fact, 1 in 4 Americans don’t know where to go to access their medical and health information.
Research shows that low health literacy is correlated with increased emergency room visits, hospital stays, and higher mortality rates. AHIMA Foundation’s mission is to empower people to take control of their health through improving health literacy. These findings further illuminate the American health literacy crisis.
During Health Literacy month this October, AHIMA Foundation has released a toolkit of easy-to-use English and Spanish language online health literacy resources at healthinfoexplained.org. The site provides practical resources and tools aimed at improving overall health literacy, including explaining individuals’ rights surrounding their own online health information and solutions for improving communication with doctors about accessing online health information and patient portals.
The survey results further illustrate that barriers to health literacy most adversely affect traditionally medically underserved communities.
“While access to online health information and medical records plays an important role in bringing clarity to one’s understanding of their health, members of medically underserved communities face additional barriers to accessing and utilizing their online health information,” says Lisa K. Fitzpatrick, MD, MPH, MPA, Founder & CEO, Grapevine Health. “It’s critical that Americans are able to retrieve their medical information to get a whole picture of their health for more positive outcomes.”
According to the study, if Americans were able to have a whole picture of their health, they’d see noticeable changes. Four in five Americans agree that if they had access to all their health information, including medical records, recommendations, conditions, and test results, they’d see at least one improvement in their health management, including improvement in their confidence in understanding their health, improvement in the management of their health, and improvement in their trust in their doctor’s recommendations.
“We know based on these results that a majority of Americans aren’t fully grasping information discussed with their health care provider, leading many patients and caregivers to turn to the internet to take their health management into their own hands” says Anisa Tootla, Executive Director, AHIMA Foundation. “But many – especially members of medically underserved communities – are lacking a key piece of the health management equation: access to and an understanding of their personal medical information and online records. AHIMA Foundation is working to help change that.”
Key Study Findings: