Study Shows: Patients Want the Ability to Share Data Among Health Providers

In a recent study done by Pew Charitable Trusts, the topic of patients wanting to exchange health information among their healthcare providers was discussed. What does this mean? Why is this important? What happens when people are in control of their own health data?

How you share data now

Think about it… how many times have you had to fill out multiple pages of your medical history? Some of the questions may be straightforward and easy to remember. But do you remember the names and doses of all of the medication you’ve taken? What about if you’re a caregiver? Do you know their medical history inside and out?

In some cases, a patient’s health information needs to be shared between two medical centers/offices. How does the information get shared?

Medical centers/offices are able to transfer records to the appropriate office, however, information is often sent via fax machine—if at all.

People want to share their data

In the Pew article, the study showed that participants supported greater access to their medical records and the ability to share with healthcare providers. The article states, “Some people indicated that better communication among health care providers would improve patient care, particularly in the event of an emergency in which the patient might be unconscious or otherwise noncommunicative, while others believed that interoperability would streamline routine care.”

In addition, the article said that nearly all participants wanted access to their health records and most wanted access to their records electronically, especially those with chronic illness

One participant was quoted saying, “[A]ll providers [should] have the same, most up-to-date, information about the patient. This way the patient’s history is always updated and there is a lesser chance for miscommunication.”

While most participants supported the idea to share data with healthcare providers, some were wary of the idea. “My concerns would be that the next doctor would be quick to take a look [at the record] without knowing the patient personally and judge them.”

What are the benefits of health data sharing?

This question can be answered simply: to improve patient safety and the care patients receive from providers. When data is shared between doctors, oncologists, pharmacists, etc., there is less room for error in communication.

In an op-ed from Modern Healthcare, Dolores Green, CEO of the Inland Empire Foundation for Medical Care and Executive Director of the Riverside County Medical Association wrote about the need for interoperability. “What’s the point of having data if we’re not going to use it to improve healthcare? As CEO of the Inland Empire Foundation for Medical Care for almost 25 years, I know that sharing data works,” Green said. “When the right hand knows what the left is doing, we’re afforded endless opportunities to make healthcare better.”

She continued to say that data exchange offers insight that is lifesaving, cost-effective, and allows providers, patients, and caregivers an opportunity to make an impact in healthcare.

Green concluded, “It’s time to connect to health data networks. Stop waiting. Physicians and patients need this data to be put to work.”