Technology is amazing! With the advancement of technology we can get information almost instantaneously with the tap of a key. With easy access to computers and the Internet, information is at our fingertips. Technology has empowered us.
Because of this wonderful technology, people are now able to view their own personal health records (PHR) online; people are becoming assertive patients more so than ever before. However, not every physician and hospital is on board to this fairly new concept. Not everyone is convinced that the Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a good thing.
Concerns of EHR
Though patients may feel empowered, there are some in the medical community that fear patients will be confused and have increased anxiety with information available to them over the Internet. Some feel it will be quite scary for a patient when he or she sees bold red print, which is an indication of “abnormal” on a lab sheet, thus creating more worry, more stress, and more anxiety.
EHR concerns also include just how much technical information will need to be provided. Some are also concerned with how much clinical and educational support will need to be given and made available to the patient.
Test Result Anxiety
Most people have some stress and anxiety waiting for exam results, especially when it’s something major like the possibility of cancer or diabetes. The unknown and the waiting is often difficult, and the stress of waiting for test results can be extremely stressful for some people. They can’t sleep and they lose their appetite.
While it is customary for a physician’s office (usually a nurse or medical assistant) to telephone the patient with results of the tests or send the results via the US postal service, it can often be stressful for the patient waiting to hear or see the results. What can make matters worse is the length of time that may go by before the physician gets back to the patient. Worst case scenario (which it does happen in error) is when the patient never hears the results or diagnosis due to a faulty follow up system.
A study done at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, found that greater than 80% of those participating in the study would rather have tests results within three (3) days of a test than to have to wait in wonder the minimum of a week for their doctor to get back with them. Many of the tests are available within days and if doctor’s offices got back with patients more efficiently, the patient may feel less stress. Health information technology in the form of online test results may help ease the stress of waiting with faster online results.
Positive Aspects of EHR
Though some believe that if the patient is educated about results and possible outcomes prior to taking the tests, the patient viewing test information online will have more realistic expectations.
Patients that are informed with procedures or tests taking place know how long it may take to receive results, and overall receive more information with access to information, tend be to calmer and comply with what is requested of them. Patient knowledge and understanding helps create less stress and a better physician patient relationship. Having the knowledge and understanding is beneficial when retrieving online medical test results.
With state-of-the-art health information technology, patients can often bypass their physician’s call, getting results faster online and directly from the lab which performed the tests. Not only is patient information available via the Internet, but it may also be available via phone apps. These new pathways of information may greatly reduce the stress and anxiety that accompany waiting for test results since the information can be delivered faster and more comfortably.