Healthcare News & Insights

Patients’ access to records: Boon or bane?

Increased use of electronic health records is touted by many as a benefit for all involved. But some health care providers have their doubts.

Recent research found that doctors, in particular, are concerned that patients’ access to their notes could lead to needless confusion and concern and possibly worsen doctor-patient communication. The article appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Among the concerns doctors expressed:

  • Common jargon/shorthand, such as using “patient complained SOB” for “patient presented with shortness of breath” may cause patients to be confused or even insulted.
  • Doctors may feel the need to withhold speculative diagnoses, such as the chance a patient may have cancer, for fear of upsetting the patient before test results are in.
  • Additional questions from patients who are confused or worried by something in their records may eat up already precious time from a doctor’s day.

No doubt, there may be some growing pains as clinicians and patients both learn to navigate with this new tool. But more information is likely to lead to better informed patients in the long run.

What are your thoughts? Will improved access to patient records help or hinder the doctor-patient relationship? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Sawtooth says:

    I would be interested in seeing feedback from the patients regarding their office visit when EMR was used verses the old medical chart. Specifically, if they felt that the physician gave them undivided attention or were they busy typing or tapping into a laptop or handheld wireless device while the exam was being conducted. EMR does not enhance the patient/provider experience in my opinion. Its similar to texting and driving. Your attention is divided at best. If the same percentage of patients access their EMR in the future as request access now, it seems like a lot of expense for something the average person is not that interested in. I have not seen any information as to how the patient might access their EMR or what kind of technology they would need to do that. I can see most of our patients coming to the clinic and requesting a hard copy of their file out of the EMR system the same way they would do now by copying their paper chart. Passing on the information to other providers, insurance carriers, etc. yes, it is efficient. But at a time when we are suppose to be making the patient’s experience better at the bed-side, this is not helping.