Online EHR Data Access Benefits Patients

Patients "overwhelmingly" experience positive benefits when they have online access to their electronic health records, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, FierceEMR reports (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 4/1).

Study Details

The study involved 30 veterans and six family members who participated in the My HealtheVet pilot program, which ran from 2000 to 2010 (Terry, InformationWeek, 4/3). My HealtheVet was a personal health record portal that allowed veterans to view and download content from their electronic health record (Woods et al., Journal of Medical Internet Research, 3/27).

Researchers interviewed the patients in focus groups at the Portland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Oregon (FierceEMR, 4/1).

Study Findings

According to the study, patients said that having online access to their EHR data helped them:

  • Improve communication with their health care providers
  • Share their health information with non-VA physicians
  • Better understand their health conditions
  • Increase their participation in their care

However, some patients reported experiencing negative effects of online EHR access as a result of:

  • Derogatory language in physician notes
  • Inconsistencies between physicians' verbal and written comments (InformationWeek, 4/3).

Researchers' Comments

In the study, researchers wrote that patients "overwhelmingly felt that having more, rather than less, of their health record information provided benefits" (Journal of Medical Internet Research, 3/27).

The researchers added that the study participants "put knowledge from their records to use by learning more about their health issues, gaining more knowledge about their providers' views and advocating for themselves in discussions about their care."

However, the researchers also noted that sharing EHR data with patients "is likely to change providers' work, necessitating new types of skills to communicate and partner with patients" (InformationWeek, 4/3).

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