Web-Based Records Worries Patients, Prompts More Neutral Language

Thursday January 28th, 2010 Kaiser Health News
Kaiser Permanente’s experience while providing digital records to patients highlights the potential for miscommunications — and sometimes needless alarm, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund reports. The health care company gave patients access to the same online lab reports that went to doctors and they included warning messages, such as a capital “H” to indicate above average results. That worried enough patients that the managed-care giant changed its format. Now, the company “displays lab results in a more neutral way, showing patients how they compare to normal ranges and advising them to contact their health practitioner with any questions.”
New stimulus funding for medical records requires providers to be able to deliver records to their patients upon request within a couple days, but the level of detail required is unclear. “Lack of agreement on this issue, and others, suggests a bumpy road ahead as patients begin to assert control over records that thus far have remained almost exclusively in the custody of medical providers.” Some doctors fear too much information without a “full explanation” from a physician “may needlessly upset people and potentially do more harm than good” (Schulte, 1/26).
KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.