Giving hospitalized patients access to their electronic health records during hospitalization increases provider workloads, but not as much as anticipated.

That is the finding of a hospital-based study conducted at the University of Colorado in which 50 patients were provided with tablets during their hospital stays and were able to view their EHRs via a patient portal. The results of the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, show that enabling patients to view their EHRs did not create additional work for doctors or nurses.

“Giving outpatients direct access to their health information helps clinicians find errors and improves patient satisfaction, although the implications of this type of access have not been well studied in the inpatient setting,” states the article. “This hospital-based study evaluates the experiences of patients, clinicians (including physicians and advanced practice providers), and nurses with immediate (real-time) release of test results and other EHR information through a patient portal.”

Also See: Docs Not Even Close to Meeting Digital Needs of Patients

Before patients viewed their EHRs, 68 percent of surveyed physicians anticipated that it would lead to additional work and all of the nurses surveyed believed it would result in more work for them. However, after patients viewed their records, 36 percent of doctors reported larger workloads and half of the nurses reported additional workloads.

In addition, 92 percent of patients before the study felt that seeing their EHRs would enable them to better understand their medical conditions, while 80 percent indicated that they expected it to help them understand their providers' instructions. Nonetheless, after viewing their EHRs, 82 percent said they better understood their medical conditions, while 60 percent said it helped them understand instructions.

Prior to patients gaining access to their EHRs, some feared that reviewing their records would increase their feelings of worry or confusion. But, after viewing their EHRs, the percentage of patients who felt worried fell from 42 percent to 18 percent and the percentage of patients who felt confused dropped from 52 percent to 32 percent.

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