Poll: Patients should be allowed to make EHR updates, but not have full access

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Most U.S. doctors believe patients should be able to update their electronic health records, but only 31 percent say patients should have access to their full health record, according to a new poll by Accenture.

While the survey results were largely consistent across 3,700 doctors surveyed by Accenture in eight countries, including Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States--U.S. physicians were the most open to patients updating their own records.

The U.S. physicians said patients should be able to add into their records demographic information (95 percent), family medical history (88 percent), medications (86 percent) and allergies (85 percent). And 81 percent said patients should be able to add some clinical updates, such as new symptoms and self-measured metrics, including blood pressure and glucose levels. Forty-seven percent, however, believe patients should not be able to update their lab test results.

Sixty-five percent said they believe patients should have limited access to their records, and four percent believe patients should have no access. While 49 percent said that giving patients access to their records is crucial to providing more effective care, just 21 percent allow patients online access to their medical summary or patient chart, the most basic form of record.

"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," Mark Knickrehm, senior global managing director of Accenture Health, said in an announcement. "Several U.S. health systems have found that the benefits outweigh the risks in allowing patients open access to their medical records, and we expect this trend to continue."

In an Accenture survey last summer of 1,100 U.S. patients, a majority said they want to use technology to manage their own healthcare. Ninety percent said they prefer web-based access to health information and education, and 72 percent want to book, change or cancel physician appointments online. However, 48 percent said they want their doctors to manage their medical records, while 44 percent said they want to do it themselves.

In a Wolters Kluwer Health survey published in December, consumers said they want to use online tools to manage their healthcare, but only 19 percent said they have access to a personal health record.

When it comes to full access to medical records, though, patients and physicians have radically different opinions, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In a study led by Harvard researchers, when patients in three practices were offered access to OpenNotes, a voluntary program that provided patients with access to physicians' written notes, 80 percent of patients were interested, while 80 percent of physicians were worried that patients would misinterpret what they'd written.

To learn more:
- find the survey announcement

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