Over the past few years, the number of prescribers using electronic health record (EHR) systems has doubled (from 17 to 34 percent). This is just the beginning, with the 2009 federal Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act providing incentives for the adoption of EHR systems.
A natural off-shoot of an EHR system is the development of patient portals. Currently, at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, our Therapy Access Portal (TAP) application shares pharmacy notes with prescribers. In the near future TAP will also have a portal for the patient to be included and gain access to pharmacy records and conversations. With that on the horizon here at BioPlus, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine caught my eye. Researchers from Harvard Medicine School conducted a one-year evaluation of the effect of patient access to EHR notes through a secure portal.
This study involved 105 primary care physicians from three different centers who allowed access to EHR notes to 13,564 of their patients. In surveys filled out by patients at the end of the study, 77-87 percent of patients reported that this access to their records led to a feeling of greater control over their health care. In addition, 60-78 percent of patients taking medications believed that this access increased their medication adherence. The researchers of this study, in reflecting on this medication adherence connection noted: “We were excited to see that more than half of patients who received medications reported improved adherence…Although self-reports fall short of objective data, open notes may prove to be a simple intervention that has an important effect on medication adherence.”
Nearly all of the patients (99 percent) wanted the EHR access to continue after the end of the study. Furthermore, none of the doctors who had volunteered for this study stopped using the open patient access to EHRs after the study ended. While a few doctors, prior to the study, expressed concerns about increased workloads with this type of record-keeping, by the end of the study it was clear that there had been very little change to workloads.
EHRs are the way of the future. In the coming months, stay tuned for the release of our TAP App version that will include a patient portal. We believe that patient care and patient outcomes will improve with our incorporation of a patient portal that is networked with our prescriber portal.
Stephen C Vogt, PharmD
President and CEO