Healthcare News & Insights

Study: At-risk teens want online access to health records

We recently reported on the increasing demand patients have to access medical records and other information online. Though previous surveys have targeted adult patients, there’s another demographic that wants the same access. 

At-risk teenagers would like online access to their own health records and could benefit greatly from having that ability, according to a recent study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

For the study, researchers interviewed 79 teens incarcerated in the juvenile detention system who had received care at Santa Clara. According to researchers, those teenagers could especially benefit from new health IT systems because they tend to have worse health than others in the same age group and often don’t have adults keeping track of the care they receive.

That means that when they have health problems, their doctors often don’t have access to their medical histories. And in many cases, teenagers may not be aware of their own health histories because they’ve lost contact with parents.

There’s often an assumption that those teenagers don’t have the resources or inclination to make use of online access to health records, according to the study’s authors, because it’s believed they have less access to technology or because teenagers care less about their health than other people.

But the study found that teenagers who are in trouble with the law want to access their health records online, and have the resources to do so. When not detained, 87% of the teens surveyed use the Internet at least once a week — the same rate as the overall teenage population.

And the vast majority (90%) agreed it would be useful to have their health records automatically put online so it could be accessed later. The majority also said they’d like to share those records with doctors, and 50% said they’d want their parents to be able to access the information.

Researchers recommend health care providers, health IT vendors and lawmakers consider this demographic when undertaking health information exchanges and other record-sharing initiatives.

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