66% of hospitals with more than 300 beds let patients request refills for prescriptions online compared with only 44% of smaller institutions.

Nearly all hospitals—93%—now offer their patients at least a basic way to access their electronic medical records online, says new research from the American Hospital Association.

But not all hospitals offer all the tools patients want to use online to access their medical information, communicate electronically with their doctor, check a lab result or pay a bill, the association says. Bigger hospitals are giving their patients more digital tools than smaller hospitals.

Hospitals have come a long way in providing patients with electronic access to their data. Just six years ago, only 27% of hospitals let patients view their health information online compared to 93% today. 84% of hospitals also now enable patients to download their medical information versus just 16% in 2012, according to the American Hospital Association.

Hospitals are giving patients more leeway in letting a user access data on their behalf. 83% of hospitals and health systems now have programs in place that let patients designate an authorized caregiver to log in and view their electronic health records for them.

“As the healthcare system continues to evolve, patient access to and interaction with their EHRs will continue to grow,” the association says. “Hospitals and health systems will continue to invest in the required capabilities and collaboration across the healthcare system.”


With more resources, bigger hospitals are providing their patients with more ways e to access and use their medical information online. For example, 66% of hospitals with more than 300 beds let patients request refills for prescriptions through a patient portal compared with only 44% of institutions that operate 100 beds or less.

87% of hospitals with 300 beds and above have electronic tools available that let patients pay a bill and 68% allow them to make a doctor’s appointment online. Those metrics compare with 70% of small hospitals that offer electronic bill payment and 37% of hospitals with 100 or fewer beds where patients can book an online doctor’s visit.

Other findings include:

  • 73% of hospitals and health systems give patients the ability to electronically transmit summaries of care to a third party such as another provider, up from only 13% in 2013.
  • 79% of hospitals and health systems enable patients to electronically request an update or another change to their health record, up from 32% in 2012.
  • 50% of hospitals and health systems allow patients to request refills for prescriptions online, up from just 22% in 2012.
  • 68% of hospitals give patients the ability to schedule doctor visits electronically versus37% six years ago.
  • 68% of hospitals allow patients to send messages to their providers through their portal, up from 55% in 2014.

“Electronically enabling these activities enhances access to care as well as patient engagement,” says the American Hospital Association research note.

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