As the Trump administration pushes to make patient health data more accessible, HHS found that there has been little change recently in access.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information's latest data brief Tuesday found that 52% of surveyed patients were offered access to their medical records online in 2017. That percentage went down to 51% in 2018. ONC and the CMS released major proposed rules in February to prevent information blocking that denies access to medical records and spur more use of electronic records.
"Making it easier for individuals to use apps to access, view and subsequently share their online medical record data may enable individuals to better manage their health and address gaps in interoperability," the ONC said in the brief.
The agency uses the data from the National Cancer Institute's health information trends survey that received roughly 3,500 responses.
In 2018, three in 10 individuals who were offered access to their record looked at it at least once within the past year. Only one in 10 viewed the data six or more times in 2018.
Who decided to view their data varied significantly from the location, socio-economic status, internet access and overall health.
For instance, individuals who had an annual income of $75,000 were more likely to be offered access, at 65%, compared to 36% of patients who made up to $35,000.
The survey also found that individuals with chronic conditions were more likely to be offered access and view their records than people without such conditions.
Patients typically didn't use their online medical record because they wanted to speak with a provider directly, with 73% in 2018 listing it as a reason.
Only 10% of those surveyed who didn't access their medical records say they couldn't access the website with the information.
In 2018, 44% of patients who had access to their records used them to fill out paperwork or forms related to their healthcare, an increase of six percentage points from 2017.
The ONC's findings comes less than a week after another brief from the ONC that found physician rates of electronically finding or querying patient data from an outside source increased by 50% from 2015 to 2017.
Public comment on the rule was recently extended from May 3 to June 3.