Background: Although many surveys have been conducted on patients accessing their own health records in recent years, there is a limited amount of nationwide cross-country data available on patients views and preferences. To address this gap, an international survey of patient users was conducted in the Nordic eHealth project, NORDeHEALTH. Objective: We aimed to investigate the sociodemographic characteristics and experiences of patients who accessed their electronic health records (EHRs) through national patient portals in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey was distributed using the national online health portals. The target participants were patients who accessed the national patient portals at the start of 2022 and who were aged 15 years. The survey included a mixture of close-ended and free-text questions about participant sociodemographics, usability experience, experiences with health care and the EHR, reasons for reading health records online, experience with errors, omissions and offense, opinions about security and privacy, and the usefulness of portal functions. In this paper, we summarized the data on participant demographics, past experience with health care, and the patient portal through descriptive statistics. Results: In total, 29,334 users completed the survey, of which 9503 (32.40%) were from Norway, 13,008 (44.3%) from Sweden, 4713 (16.07%) from Finland, and 2104 (7.17%) from Estonia. National samples were comparable according to reported gender, with about two-thirds identifying as women (19,904/29,302, 67.93%). Age distributions were similar across the countries, but Finland had older users while Estonia had younger users. The highest attained education and presence of health care education varied among the national samples. In all 4 countries, patients most commonly rated their health as fair (11,279/29,302, 38.48\%). In Estonia, participants were more often inclined to rate their health positively, whereas Norway and Sweden had the highest proportion of negative health ratings. Across the whole sample, most patients received some care in the last 2 years (25,318/29,254, 86.55%). Mental health care was more common (6214/29,254, 21.24%) than oncological care (3664/29,254, 12.52%). Overall, most patients had accessed their health record 2 to 9 times (11,546/29,306, 39.4%), with the most frequent users residing in Sweden, where about one-third of patients accessed it more than 20 times (4571/13,008, 35.14%). Conclusions: This is the first large-scale international survey to compare patient users sociodemographics and experiences with accessing their EHRs. Although the countries are in close geographic proximity and demonstrate similar advancements in giving their residents online records access, patient users in this survey differed. We will continue to investigate patients experiences and opinions about national patient-accessible EHRs through focused analyses of the national and combined data sets from the NORDeHEALTH 2022 Patient Survey.
Year of Publication
Journal of Medical Internet Research
Number of Pages