Patients' Experiences of Accessing Their Electronic Health Records: National Patient Survey in Sweden

Publication Type:

Journal Article


JMIR, Volume 20, Number 11, p.e278 (2018)


eHealth, Medical records, national survey, patient portal, patient-accessible electronic health records, patients, personal health records


Background: Internationally, there is a movement toward providing patients a Web-based access to their electronic health records (EHRs). In Sweden, Region Uppsala was the first to introduce patient-accessible EHRs (PAEHRs) in 2012. By the summer of 2016, 17 of 21 county councils had given citizens Web-based access to their medical information. Studies on the effect of PAEHRs on the work environment of health care professionals have been conducted, but up until now, few extensive studies have been conducted regarding patients experiences of using PAEHRs in Sweden or Europe, more generally. Objective: The objective of our study was to investigate patients experiences of accessing their EHRs through the Swedish national patient portal. In this study, we have focused on describing user characteristics, usage, and attitudes toward the system. Methods: A national patient survey was designed, based on previous interview and survey studies with patients and health care professionals. Data were collected during a 5-month period in 2016. The survey was made available through the PAEHR system, called Journalen, in Sweden. The total number of patients that logged in and could access the survey during the study period was 423,141. In addition to descriptive statistics reporting response frequencies on Likert scale questions, Mann-Whitney tests, Kruskal-Wallis tests, and chi-square tests were used to compare answers between different county councils as well as between respondents working in health care and all other respondents. Results: Overall, 2587 users completed the survey with a response rate of 0.61% (2587/423,141). Two participants were excluded from the analysis because they had only received care in a county council that did not yet show any information in Journalen. The results showed that 62.97% (1629/2587) of respondents were women and 39.81% (1030/2587) were working or had been working in health care. In addition, 72.08% (1794/2489) of respondents used Journalen about once a month, and the main reason for use was to gain an overview of ones health status. Furthermore, respondents reported that lab results were the most important information for them to access; 68.41% (1737/2539) of respondents wanted access to new information within a day, and 96.58% (2454/2541) of users reported that they are positive toward Journalen. Conclusions: In this study, respondents provided several important reasons for why they use Journalen and why it is important for them to be able to access information in this way several related to patient empowerment, involvement, and security. Considering the overall positive attitude, PAEHRs seem to fill important needs for patients.

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