The recent article in the Archives titled “Frequency of Failure to Inform Patients of Clinically Significant Outpatient Test Results”1 states that the use of an EMR does not improve physicians' ability to provide test results in a timely manner compared with paper records. The authors missed an opportunity, however, to point out one potential solution—give the patients access to their test results directly, using a personal health record (PHR) directly linked to the EMR. Many health systems are now using a linked patient portal to more closely involve patients in their care and share significant portions of their medical records. The “Meaningful Use Matrix” recently released in support of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (Title XIII of Division A and Title IV of Division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [Pub L No. 111-5, 123 Stat 115]) highlights the importance of providing patients with electronic access to their clinical information, including laboratory test results, by calling it out as one way to demonstrate full implementation of an electronic health record.
Christensen K, Oldenburg J. Giving Patients Their Results Online Might Be the Answer. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(19):1806-1818. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.369