Healthcare News & Insights

Patient-controlled health records — will they help?

A major hospital is now offering patient- or consumer-controlled health records for the first time — and most of the health industry is waiting to see what the results will be.

Online personal health records based solely on patient inputs have been around for awhile, but few consumers use them. They’re time-consuming and it’s easy for non-professionals to make mistakes in updating the records.

But having centralized records available for every visit, diagnosis and medication — no matter which provider or facility the patient has seen — could have a huge beneficial impact on the diagnosis, prescription management, etc.

So far, major institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic have partnered with IT players like Microsoft and Google to test systems that would import individuals’ provider-based health data into their own personal health records.

Now, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has launched a program in conjunction with Microsoft to allow consumers access to their info with the goal of allowing them to share that data with health providers at any facility they choose.

The hospital is starting with heart patients, who will be given access to a Web portal for their personal health records.

Pros and cons

Giving patients access to electronic versions of their medical records should help in a number of ways, including improved patient compliance with medications, easier communication between patients and providers as well as between providers at different practices or hospitals. But whether consumer-controlled health records live up to their promise will depend on how well all the stakeholders can ensure that the records are kept up-to-date and that patients understand how to use them.

What’s your take? Will widespread use of patient-controlled health records make providers’ jobs easier, or just make it easier for information to get muddled? Let us know in the comments.

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