Healthcare IT

Do patients actually want access to their EHR?

Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. However, few patients actually access their electronic health record (EHR) when given the chance. According to a paper by Lin et al. (2019):

On average, hospitals gave 95 percent of discharged patients access to view, download, and transmit their information, but only about 10 percent of those with access used it—levels that were stagnant during the study period.

One key challenge is that EHR are written for a physician audience. Simplified language and instructions are needed to engage patients, and this translation to a new audience is a non-trivial task. Further, patients are busy and may feel stressed and accessing complicated documents may be stress inducing. Further, access is likely especially low for non-English speakers.

Thus, despite the promise of EHR, currently these records have value only for a small minority of patients.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for your insight on this paper! I was thinking along the same lines in terms of the challenges standing in the way of empowering patients with their healthcare data. I know there are some great innovators working on translating patient portals into different languages. Perhaps, if there is enough built up demand for patient access to health data, we will see more and more vendors offering these features in the future.

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