A recent study found that when patients have access to their medical records online, they are more likely to get recommended screening tests and immunizations, according to Reuters.
The Annals of Family Medicine published the research in which eight primary care practices were studied and, after 16 months, 25 percent of patients who used the online records were up-to-date on their preventative care. This rate was twice as high as the number of people not using the web-based health records. Included were tests for certain types of cancer and immunizations, such as the yearly flu shot.
Jesse Crosson, an assistant professor at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Somerset, New Jersey said that while he wasn't directly involved in the study, he has studied the impact of electronic medical records and found the results "very encouraging," as it can be difficult to get individuals to take an active role in their health care.
Researchers randomly assigned 4,500 primary care patients to either remain with their normal care or be assigned to access their personal records on a secure website.
Dr. Alex Krist, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, was the lead researcher and said that they tested "a higher level of functionality than exists in current practice."
Specifically, the system pulled patients' records and provided a personalized list of possible preventative tests, such as screenings and immunizations, and also provided links to educational websites about the specific measures and why they are recommended.
Patients are not the only ones required to become well-versed in the new and changing systems of electronic medical records. Doctors, nurses and others in the healthcare industry will need to be fully knowledgeable as well. In that case, it is recommended that HR representatives use pre-employment assessment tests to ensure that applicants will be able to handle the technological aspects required of the job.