AHIMA Foundation: 76 Percent of Americans Do Not Leave Doctor’s Office on a Positive Note

Oct. 15, 2021
The AHIMA Foundation recently published a study on how Americans understand and access health information, most respondents report they do not fully grasp the information discussed with their healthcare provider

The American Health Information Management (AHIMA) Foundation, released a study this month entitled “Understanding, Access and Use of Health Information in America.”

The study states that “Communication is key for any relationship and especially true for the relationship between doctor and patient. According to a recent study commissioned by AHIMA Foundation and conducted by Kelton Global, a Material company, there is a clear disconnect in the information being shared and understood when patients and doctors are together. A majority of Americans report they aren’t fully grasping the information discussed with their healthcare provider, leaving many confused and unsure of how to proceed. This is also true among caregivers who express concern about their loved ones’ understanding and ability to access important information about their own health. This communication breakdown prompts many patients and caregivers to turn to other resources, like the Internet, to fill in the holes and take their health management into their own hands. While millions report that they’ve found success going this route, many are lacking a key piece of the health management equation: access to and an understanding of their personal medical information and records.”

Key highlights from the study include:

  • Seventy-six percent of Americans report they do not leave their doctor’s office on a positive note, including disappointment in the level of Q&A they have with their doctor, confusion about their health, and the need to do more research
  • Twenty-two percent report they do not feel comfortable asking their physician certain health questions
    • Seventeen percent report they do not have the opportunity to ask questions at all
  • Sixty-two percent of Americans report they are not “extremely confident” in their understanding of the health information they discuss with their physician
    • Fifteen percent respondents report they sometimes feel more confused about their health than they did previous to their appointment
  • Forty-three percent of Americans are caregivers, meaning they are solely or partially responsible for someone else’s health and medical needs, such as a parent, child, loved one, or friend
    • Ninety-one percent play an active role in managing their loved one’s health
    • Millennials (65 percent) and Gen Xers (50 percent) are significantly more likely than Gen Z (39 percent) and baby boomers (20 percent) to be a caregiver
  • Forty-three percent of caretakers don’t feel their loved one is able to understand all of their medical and health information independently
  • Forty-two percent say they research their doctor’s recommendations after an appointment
  • Ninety-four percent say they seek out health information about specific medical questions or conditions on the internet
    • Eighty-six percent are confident that the information is credible
  • Forty-eight percent of Americans admit they don’t usually review their medical records until much later after an appointment with their doctor
  • Fifty-two percent report that they rarely access their medical records to review their health information

The study states that the Panel Sample was n=1,059, U.S. resident, nationally representative sample, over 18 years of age, and the fielding dates were July 26, 2021-August 2, 2021. “Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation,” the report states. “The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than three percent from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all personas in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.”

The full study can be accessed here.

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