Patient Wants vs. Doctors Fears with Online Records Access

Photo courtesy of Dreamstime

Photo courtesy of Dreamstime

A study was recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that found VA patients who were given access to parts of their electronic medical record thought it helped in many ways. Benefits included:

  • gaining knowledge about their health
  • taking care of themselves better
  • an easier time talking to their doctors
  • participating more fully in office visits

Earlier last month, InformationWeek wrote on an Accenture survey that found that most U.S. doctors are willing to let patients update their electronic health records, but only 31% are willing to give patients full online access to their medical records.

Doctors’ fears persist that online access to medical information may leave patients confused and overwhelmed by information they do not know how to interpret, despite how many studies come out that show the opposite.

The JMIR research found that provider fears about patient confusion and distress are overestimated. However, their conclusion includes an imperative for clinicians: “In this era of greater transparency and technology designed to optimize the user experience, new skills will be needed to achieve shared care planning and decision-making.”

What doctors don’t understand is that for patients, more information is empowering and helps reduce fear. It is for this reason we designed the Patient Guidance System to power hospitals’ patient partnerships through acute care service lines. Patients who are given more education are better prepared for their procedures and are less likely to cancel or delay due to anxiety or unanswered questions.

Answer our poll question this week: Do you think patients should have online access to their full medical record?

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