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Satisfying Patient-Consumer Principles for Health Information Exchange: Evidence from California Case Studies

Robert H. Miller, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging

This Health Affairs article by Miller shows that while hospitals and physicians are benefitting from government incentives to adopt electronic health records systems, patients are not realizing many benefits.

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A study published in Health Affairs examines how well five California health care systems — all technology leaders — address patient and community needs while developing their health information systems.

Commissioned by Consumers Union and supported by CHCF, the study concludes that although hospitals and physicians are taking advantage of government incentives to adopt electronic health record (EHR) systems, they are inconsistent when it comes to helping patients effectively access and use the information.

Among the key findings:

  • Providers vary widely in the amount of EHR information they allow patients to view.
  • Patients are not fully informed, particularly in their own language, about how to use EHR portals.
  • Patients have little control over the privacy of their records.

In addition, the research shows that a lack of "rules of the road" hinders progress toward the effective use of health information exchanges (HIE) — partnerships that enable providers to electronically share patient health information.

The study's author recommends key next steps, including establishing policies that support health information technology literacy campaigns; setting timelines for organizations to offer patient-friendly, web-based portals; and funding evaluations of health information exchange systems.

The complete article is available free of charge on the Health Affairs site through the External Link below.

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