Online health records more common but usage low, OPM says

Monday - 11/14/2011, 5:04pm EST

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Most federal health plans are doing more to educate their members about accessing health data online, but few federal employees are actually looking up their medical history online.

The findings come from a September report on health information technology (HIT) and transparency by the Office of Personnel Management. The report is based on reports submitted by the 207 health plans participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program in 2011.

According to the report,

  • 92 percent of plans have taken steps to educate their members on HIT.

  • Less than 5 percent of the plans' members have actually used their online records.

  • 75 percent of plans said they have online tools that compare physician or hospital quality.

  • 59 percent of plans said they have online physician or hospital cost estimators or comparison tools on their websites.

"OPM is working with the private insurance companies in the FEHBP market to increase their use of HIT because it results in better care as well as cost savings," said OPM Director John Berry in a statement. "The taxpayers save twice: healthier workers are more productive, and we'll save insurance costs in the long run."