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J Am Med Inform Assoc 10:129-138 doi:10.1197/jamia.M1147
  • The Practice of Informatics
  • Review Paper

The Effects of Promoting Patient Access to Medical Records: A Review

  1. Stephen E Ross,
  2. Chen-Tan Lin
  1. Affiliations of the authors: University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Division of General Internal Medicine, Denver, Colorado
  1. Correspondence and reprints: Stephen E. Ross, MD, AOP/ Internal Medicine, 1635 N. Ursula Street, Campus Box F729, Aurora, Colorado 80010; e-mail: <Steve.Ross{at}uchsc.edu>
  • Received 17 April 2002
  • Accepted 13 November 2002

Abstract

The Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA) stipulates that patients must be permitted to review and amend their medical records. As information technology makes medical records more accessible to patients, it may become more commonplace for patients to review their records routinely.

This article analyzes the potential benefits and drawbacks of facilitating patient access to the medical record by reviewing previously published research. Previous research includes analysis of clinical notes, surveys of patients and practitioners, and studies of patient-accessible medical records.

Overall, studies suggest the potential for modest benefits (for instance, in enhancing doctor-patient communication). Risks (for instance, increasing patient worry or confusion) appear to be minimal in medical patients. The studies, however, were of limited quality and low statistical power to detect the variety of outcomes that may result from implementation of a patient-accessible medical record. The data from these studies lay the foundation for future research.

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