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To Share or Not to Share: Physician Participation in EHRs and Data Sharing Agreements

    • SharingCoverPhysicians are increasingly finding themselves in situations when, through incentive programs or the need for quicker access to patient test results and other medical records, they are subscribing to health system/hospital electronic health record platforms. Sometimes these subscriptions are limited in scope and physicians may simply utilize a hospital-based electronic medical record system to obtain studies without having to transfer their own electronic or paper medical records and patient billing to a single source system. Other physicians may choose to utilize the health systems' entire electronic health record for reasons related to competitive advantage, convenience, cost, and simply not understanding enough about electronic medical record systems and the data housed within them to purchase a system on their own.

      Independent and clinically integrated physicians share concerns that once they consent to participate in a hospital-based electronic health record system, they may lose control of their data or patient population as well as the ability to prevent marketing to their patients by hospitals and affiliated business associates. Unfortunately, the widespread use of electronic health records and patient portals by U.S. health care consumers is too new to adequately measure patient outcomes and patient satisfaction resulting from the use of health care technology. Some of the functions of an EHR system include providing portals for populations of patients.

      These portals can be used by patients to schedule appointments, email physicians and other clinicians, request prescription refills, access laboratory and radiology results, view medication and problem lists, and retrieve patient account information. Although the operation of a patient portal is a critical function to achieving Meaningful Use, many physicians to date have proceeded cautiously with the types of information that they release to their patients.


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