Health Affairs January 13, 2020

In November 2019, Health Affairs published an article by Sunny C. Lin and colleagues that analyzed data on the number of patients who accessed their health records online as a result of the federal Promoting Interoperability Program (formerly known as Meaningful Use). The low proportion (10 percent of patients with online access to their records used it) led the authors to conclude that the patient access aspect of the program was a “public policy failure.” 

As consumer advocates, we strongly agree that the program’s patient access requirements should have been much stronger, and we advocated against the changes that weakened them substantially in previous years. But it’s also important to recognize—and address—the major underlying problems: misaligned financial incentives and significant gaps in usability.