Revenue Cycle Management Blog | GroupOne Health Source

Engaging Patients with Access to Their Personal Health Record

Written by Nicole Laucks | October 20, 2015

Attitudes toward health records have changed among patients and care providers in recent years. Once shrouded in mystery, the personal medical record is becoming more open to patients through online portals that let them review, and in some cases add to the information contained in them. EHR systems have changed the way providers and patients communicate and manage healthcare outcomes.

In the decade from 2001 to 2011, the number of providers using EHR systems increased from 18% to 57%, helping with better care coordination and reducing the chances of medical errors. A 2011 survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that two out of three patients would consider switching to a physician who provided access to medical records through a secure internet connection. 
 
More doctors are coming around to the idea of patients having access to their records, with nearly half in one survey saying they think giving patients access is essential to providing good healthcare services. In fact, HIMSS reports that "patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes." So why is it that only 21% of providers are currently allowing patients to have online access to a medical summary or patient chart, which is considered the most basic form of a patient record? Improving patient engagement and healthcare starts with providing the patient access to their charts.
 
Benefits of providing patients access to their charts

Patients are primary stakeholders in the task of ensuring medical records are accurate. The patient is the common denominator in all the medical care received, whether from general practitioners, specialists, retail clinics, or other providers. The patient may be the only one who knows, for instance, that he/she visited a retail clinic for a sore throat on a weekend and was prescribed antibiotics. If the clinic doesn't forward this information to the primary care physician, the patient's overall record will remain incomplete. Giving the patient the ability to download their personal health record can help ensure accuracy of the record. When patients are able to take steps to ensure their medical records are accurate and current, the problem of fragmented care diminishes.

Patients most commonly have access to their health records through employers, insurers, and healthcare providers themselves in the form of an online portal that lets them at least view their records and that may notify them any time records are updated. A records portal may, for example, automatically send a patient an email alert when results of lab tests are added to a record. Some systems allow patient input of information including basic data like blood pressure readings and blood glucose readings. They may also allow patients to input other information, such as new symptoms they experience.

Is your EHR holding you back?

As beneficial as EHR systems are to patients, they're even more beneficial to healthcare facilities, as long as they are high quality systems. A top quality EHR system streamlines the office visit process, from appointment scheduling through posting of payments, and reduces the risk of errors.

A good EHR system assists physicians with recording accurate information, and can be a tremendous benefit to coders. When patients are encouraged to review their records securely online, they can flag inconsistencies or mistakes, or fill in missing information, so that records can be updated. It's a classic win-win situation for patients and medical practices. If your EHR system is lacking in patient portal capabilities or is holding providers back from documenting accurately then it may be time to switch. Contact us today to see how eClinicalWorks EHR can help.