Patient Records “On Demand”

August 17, 2010
Keith L. Martin

Everything is “on demand” these days, from television shows and movies, to music available for purchase while you are riding the bus or sitting in your office. The push for on demand medical records also continues to gain steam amid the new EHR-driven landscape of medicine.

Everything is “on demand” these days, from television shows and movies, to music available for purchase while you are riding the bus or sitting in your office. The push for on demand medical records also continues to gain steam amid the new EHR-driven landscape of medicine.

A new study by Practice Fusion, a web-based EHR provider, indicates that American patients list the inability to access their medical records when needed as a top concern. Specifically, nearly 28 percent of the 1,002 adults who took an online survey indicated as such, with another 19 percent indicating their top worry was their records containing inaccurate or outdated information. Twelve percent of respondents indicated their main fear as reaching an emergency room for care, but not having access to their medical records.

In our new EHR world, personal health records (PHRs) are not new in theory, but are in terms of adoption. Plus, they can take different shapes and forms, from just being used as a scheduling tool, to a place where patients can enter their own information outside of a physician’s notes.

Others, like the version being touted by Practice Fusion on their Web site, ties PHRs directly to the medical practice, allowing access to medical charts, medications, and other information in an effort to promote patient involvement in their care and well-being.

The company promotes its “real-time online access” to medical records to help alleviate the fears of its survey respondents, whether they are seeing a new doctor and want access to their information or if they do end up at an ER. It is geared at empowering a patient in their time of need or in their time of want, so to speak.

But like all technology, it has its limits. A recent study in the Journal of The American Medical Informatics Association found that while PHRs do empower patients to take a more active role in their own healthcare, there is still room for improvement in how they perform.

Like their EHR big brothers, PHRs are still a work in progress and constantly being refined and tweaked to meet both the needs of patients and doctors. And also like their technological sibling, they are likely to become the norm more than the exception in the coming years.

So the question is: What form of PHR works for you? Are you comfortable with patients seeing your clinical notes? Is it best for their care to access their information?

If you are using a PHR already, these questions have been answered, but if you are still without such a system, you may want to start considering your answers. Remember, we are now living in an “on demand” world and your patients are becoming more tech-savvy and seeking any and all kinds of information. How will you meet their “on demand” needs?