A growing number of consumers are embracing electronic health records, and the significant boost in online access to health information may be increasing patient engagement in their care, according to findings from a study by the National Partnership for Women & Families. It also reveals how patients use health information technology and which functions are valuable to them.

Key findings include:

• In the last year, 86 percent of patients with online access to their health records used their online records at least once, and 55 percent used them three or more times a year.

• Eighty percent of adults in the United States who have doctors and know whether their doctors use electronic or paper record systems say that their physicians use EHR systems, up from 64 percent in 2011.

• Eighty-five to 96 percent of all patients found EHRs useful in various aspects of care delivery, while only 57 to 68 percent saw paper records as useful.

• Patients’ online access to EHRs has nearly doubled, from 26 percent in 2011 to 50 percent in 2014.

• Consumers want even more robust functionality and features of online access than are widely available today, including the ability to email providers (56 percent); review treatment plans (56 percent), doctors’ notes (58 percent) and test results (75 percent); schedule appointments (64 percent); and submit medication refill requests (59 percent).

• Patients’ trust in the privacy and security of EHRs has increased since 2011, and patients with online access to their health information have a much higher level of trust in their doctors and medical staff (77 percent) than those with EHRs that don’t include online access (67 percent).

• Different populations prefer and use different health IT functionalities. For example, Hispanic adults were significantly more likely than non-Hispanic whites (78 vs. 55 percent) to say that having online access to their EHRs increases their desire to do something about their health, and African-American adults were among the most likely to say that EHRs are helpful in finding and correcting medical errors and keeping up with medications. www.nationalpartnership.org