Patients want the ability to access and share their electronic health information, but some physicians are wary of the idea, according to two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Reuters reports.
Access to Physician Notes
For the first study, Harvard Medical School researchers and colleagues surveyed more than 37,000 patients and more than 170 primary care physicians at three hospitals about their expectations for a soon-to-be-launched system called OpenNotes. The system provides patients with an online portal to access their physician's notes (Grens, Reuters, 12/19).
Researchers found that:
- More than 90% of patients were enthusiastic about the launch of the OpenNotes system (Mestel, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 12/19);
- 35% of patients expressed concerns about the privacy of the system; and
- 22% of patients expressed interest in sharing their physician's notes with a family member, physician or other health professional (Reuters, 12/19).
The study also found that 64% of physicians invited to use the OpenNotes system agreed to do so (Quinton, National Journal, 12/19). Many of the doctors who agreed to participate in the program said they thought it would increase patient satisfaction and improve patient safety.
Of the physicians who declined to participate, four out of five said they thought the OpenNotes system would be time-consuming because it would require them to answer more patient questions. A majority of the physicians who chose not to participate also said that greater patient access might lead doctors to censor notes related to mental health, substance misuse and other issues (Reuters, 12/19).
Sharing PHR Data
For the second study, Stanford University researchers and colleagues asked 18,471 Veterans Health Administration patients who use the Department of Veterans Affairs' MyHealtheVet personal health record system if they would be interested in sharing their health information with a caregiver, family member or outside health care provider. They found that:
- 79% of patients were interested in sharing their PHR with at least one person;
- More than 50% were interested in sharing their PHR with a partner or spouse;
- 23% were interested in sharing their PHR with a child;
- 15% were interested in sharing their PHR with another family member;
- 7% were interested in sharing their PHR with an unrelated caregiver; and
- 2% were interested in sharing their PHR with a friend or neighbor.
Researchers noted that patients were most interested in sharing medication lists, appointment information and test results (National Journal, 12/19).
Donna Zulman -- a physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and lead author of the study -- said the findings indicate that "health systems need to be developing these record systems that allow patients to share their health information." She added that allowing family members and other health care providers to access a patient's health information could streamline care for complex, chronic conditions (Reuters, 12/19).