British Doctors Fear Repercussions Of Sharing EMR Data With Patients

Posted on April 19, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Like their American counterparts, British doctors fear giving patients too much access to their electronic health records, according to a new survey.

The survey was conducted by a non-profit group called the Medical Protection Society, which provides professional indemnity coverage to doctors, dentists and health professionals globally.

Researchers there found that 75 percent of patients responding to the survey want medical records to be written in “simple language” that patients can read without help, according to the British Journal of Healthcare Computing.

Doctors, on the other hand, aren’t so keen on the idea, with only 21 percent agreeing that medical records should be written in this manner. Moreover, 84 percent of physician respondents were afraid that sharing data would complicate their relationship with patients and potentially turn out to be a time sink.

It’s not so much that doctors fear sharing information with patients. Physicians seemed to agree that it’s good when patients understand their records and can make better decisions about their own care.

But it seems that doctors and patients have different expectations as to how to manage that sharing. While patients want readable records, physicians worry that it’ll be difficult to write records accurately if they have to avoid clinical terms, jargon, acronyms and shorthand that might confuse patients.

In fact, they believe that writing a record in non-professional English might cause those records to grow considerably longer while offering less value to other professionals, the BJHC reports.

To avoid such problems, it will be important to introduce comprehensive educational support for both doctors and patients, the researchers concluded.