Inpatient access to EHRs: Fears allayed but benefits don’t pan out

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Cardiologists and other clinicians might be wary of giving patients direct access to their EHR while they are in the hospital, but their concerns decreased after using it in a real-world setting, according to a study.

Jonathan Michael Pell, MD, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colo., and colleagues surveyed 50 patients, 28 clinicians and 14 nurses at the University of Colorado Hospital before and after they used an EHR for interventions. The survey evaluated caregiver workload, patient confusion and worry, patient empowerment, errors detected and discharge planning.

“The suspected risks of giving inpatients direct access to their EHR did not bear out,” Pell et al wrote. “Consistent with outpatient studies, patients answered more positively to empowerment questions after being given EHR access.”

Seventy-nine percent of clinicians and nurses were concerned that giving patients immediate access to their test results would increase their workload. After using the EHR for the intervention, that percentage dropped to 40 percent. Pre-intervention, 86 percent of clinicians and nurses (and 42 percent of patients) worried that seeing test results would cause patients to worry; post-intervention, that dropped to 62 percent.

However, real-life experience had the opposite effect on the perception that EHRs could help patients find medication errors and know when they were being discharged. Ninety-five percent of clinicians and nurses were optimistic that patient access to their medication lists would help them find errors, but post-intervention, that confidence dropped to 60 percent.

Their findings were published online March 9 in JAMA Internal Medicine.