Research News

Education key to getting patients to share their medical records electronically

When a patient decides not to share their records electronically, it can result in increased costs, medical errors and undesired health outcomes, researchers say.

By KEVIN MANNE

Published November 22, 2017

“As doctors spend more time with patients and involve them in decision-making processes, they will be more willing to share their medical records electronically — and see the benefits of doing so.”
Joana Gaia, clinical assistant professor
Department of Management Science and Systems

Education is the key to getting patients to share their medical records electronically with health care providers, according to a new study from the School of Management.

Published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the study found that while patient education has typically focused on the benefits of electronic records, privacy concerns are what keep most from signing up.

“When a patient decides not to share their records electronically, it can result in increased costs, medical errors and undesired health outcomes,” says study co-author Lawrence Sanders, professor of management science and systems. “But patients are more concerned about privacy, and health care providers should make it a priority to let them know about all the policies and security measures in place to protect them.”

By making patients more aware of existing privacy policies and security measures in place, health care providers create an environment where patients are more likely to share their personal health information, and still achieve cost- and error-reduction benefits, the researchers say. 

The authors analyzed results of a nationwide health survey with more than 1,600 participants that included questions about health conditions and lifestyles, intention to share personal health information and more. Beyond patient education, they found that educating health care providers is just as important.

“Physicians need to know how important their relationships are with the people who come to them for care,” says Joana Gaia, clinical assistant professor of management science and systems. “As doctors spend more time with patients and involve them in decision-making processes, they will be more willing to share their medical records electronically — and see the benefits of doing so.”

Sanders and Gaia collaborated on the study with Mohamed Abdelhamid, assistant professor of information systems at the California State University Long Beach College of Business Administration. Gaia and Abdelhamid were the lead authors.