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Physician Participation in EHRs, Portals, and Data Sharing Agreements

    • EHRPortalPhysicians are finding themselves in situations in which, 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 (EHR) platforms. Sometimes these subscription uses are limited in scope, providing basic functions such as the ability to enter computerized patient orders or obtain studies without having to transfer their own electronic or paper medical record and patient billing systems to a single source system. Other physicians may choose to utilize the hospital-sponsored electronic health record system for reasons related to competitive advantage, convenience, cost, or simply because their lack of understanding about electronic medical record systems and the data housed within them makes them reluctant to purchase a system on their own.

      This document highlights physician concerns and participatory aspects of electronic health record and portal technology and also discusses data use, data integrity, knowledge management, transparency, privacy and security.

      A few basics: The functions of an EHR system are to provide physicians, hospitals and patients with the means of communicating among each other and to promote transparency, reduce costs and allow multiple practitioners the ability to view medical records and results. Physician and patient portals can be used to schedule appointments, email physicians and other clinicians through secure direct messaging, request prescription refills, access laboratory and radiology results, view medications and problem lists, and retrieve patient account information.

      Although the operation of a patient portal is a mandatory function to achieve Stage 2 Meaningful Use, physicians oftentimes hesitate to take full advantage of the many functions available to their patients through use of these portals. For example, while some health-related information and test results are easy for the patient to interpret, there is other data that, if released prior to interpretation or explanation by the ordering practitioner, might cause undue worry for patients. For these reasons, physicians are reluctant to release results to patients without first reviewing the information.

       

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