Docs limit patient EMR access

New survey shows physicians want to limit patients' view of their own medical information
By Bernie Monegain
10:12 AM
electronic health records

Even as policmakers are pushing patient engagement, a new survey signals doctors may not be ready to relinquish control of their patients' medical record.

Eighty-two percent of U.S. physicians responding to a recent survey indicated they want patients to actively participate in their own healthcare by updating their electronic health records. However, only 31 percent said they believed a patient should have full access to his or her own record, with 65 percent indicating patients should have limited access and 4 percent saying they should have no access.

Source: Accenture

The findings come from a recent Harris Interactive survey conducted on behalf of global consulting and technology services firm Accenture.

The results were consistent among 3,700 doctors surveyed by Accenture in eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States. Harris surveyed 500 doctors in each country except Singapore, where it surveyed 200 physicians.

[See also: Try to see patient engagement from the patient's point of view.]

Limited access
While nearly half of U.S. doctors (47 percent) believe patients should not be able to update their lab test results, the vast majority (95 percent) believe patients should be able to update some or all of the standard information in their health records, including demographics, family medical history (88 percent), medications (87 percent) and allergies (85 percent). Moreover, 81 percent of the doctors surveyed believe patients should even be able to add such clinical updates to their records as new symptoms or self-measured metrics, including blood pressure and glucose levels.

Source: Accenture

[See also: 3 ways technology can facilitate patient engagement.]

"Many physicians believe that patients should take an active role in managing their own health information, because it fosters personal responsibility and ownership and enables both the patient and doctor to track progress outside scheduled appointments," said Mark Knickrehm, global managing director of Accenture Health. "Several U.S. health systems have proven that the benefits outweigh the risks in allowing patients open access to their health records, and we expect this trend to continue."

In fact, nearly half of doctors surveyed (49 percent) believe that giving patients access to their records is crucial to providing effective care. But only 21 percent of doctors surveyed currently allow patients to have online access to their medical summary or patient chart, the most basic form of a patient’s record.

EHRs get doc support
More than half of doctors surveyed (53 percent) believe that the introduction of electronic health records has improved the quality of patient care, and the overwhelming majority (84 percent) say they are somewhat or strongly committed to promoting electronic records in their clinical practice. Most (77 percent) believe the right investments in adopting electronic records are being made and 83 percent believe they will become integral to effective patient care in the next two years.