Patient Access to Medical Information: A Multi-Perspecitive Study
Giardina, Traber L
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Recent U.S health care policy emphasizes increased patient access to medical information to empower patients and improve quality of care. However, little is known about what access should consist of, how these systems will impact patients and physicians, and whether their use leads to better outcomes. Furthermore, the discrepancy between the 85 percent of Americans who use the internet and the 10 percent who access a patient portal is striking, suggesting a need to better understand barriers and facilitators concerning the use of patient portals. This three article dissertation builds upon existing research by: 1) providing a systematic review of the literature to determine the impact of patient-accessible records on quality of care; 2) identifying physician perceptions of patients’ access to test results; and 3) exploring patients’ experiences using portal-based test result notification. Despite a lack of evidence in the literature, psychological harm to patients is a major concern for both physicians and patients, especially as it relates to the release of sensitive test results. As portals continue to evolve, it is important to address both patient and physician concerns to facilitate acceptance and use, and to ensure that patients understand the medical information they are accessing. These findings suggest important considerations for health professionals, including medical social workers, who may be able to leverage this technology to engage patients in their care.