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Education is key to getting patients to share electronic medical records

By making patients more aware of existing privacy policies and security measures, providers can encourage patients sharing.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Education is the key to getting patients to share their medical records electronically with healthcare providers, according to a new study from the University at Buffalo School of Management.

Published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the study found that while patient education has typically focused on the benefits of electronic records, privacy concerns are what keep most from signing up.

That dynamic has the potential to make things complicated. When a patient decides not to share their records in that manner, costs can often increase, the study found. Medical errors and poorer health outcomes are also more common. 

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Still, privacy is a primary concern for many, and the authors suggest healthcare providers should prioritize education, letting patients know about the policies and security measures that have been put in place to protect that privacy.

By making patients more aware of existing privacy policies and security measures, healthcare providers create an environment where patients are more likely to share their personal health information, and therefore are able to achieve cost and error reduction benefits, the researchers said.

The authors analyzed results of a nationwide health survey with more than 1,600 participants, which included questions about health conditions and lifestyles, as well as intention to share personal health information. 

Beyond patient education, they found that educating healthcare providers is just as important. Physicians should grasp the importance of the relationships they have with the people who come to them for care, the authors wrote. When doctors involve patients more in decision-making processes, those patients will be more willing to see the benefits of sharing their medical records electronically.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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