New article published about the effects of patient accessible electronic health records on the work environment of oncology healthcare professionals

The first journal article based on the large observation/interview/survey study about the effects of patient accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs) on oncology healthcare professionals was finally published in Health Informatics Journal

The article, “Oncology health-care professionals’ perceived effects of patient accessible electronic health records 6 years after launch: A survey study at a major university hospital in Sweden”, focuses on a survey covering  questions about effects of PAEHR on contacts with patientsdocumentation practicesand care quality as well as supposed effects for patients. The survey was handed out to physicians and nurses by the heads of all departments at Uppsala University Hospital that were associated with blood and tumor diseases. This, in part, explains the unusually high response rate of around 72%. Jonas Moll led the data collection and analysis of this study and wrote the article together with Åsa Cajander at my former department at Uppsala University.

In the article we present several results, related to the areas mentioned above, from one of the first large follow-up studies in Sweden about clinician-perceived effects of PAEHR several years after launch of the system. Some of the key results are:

  • Oncology care professionals believe that it is generally a good idea to give patients access to their medical records through the PAEHR
  • There is a small effect regarding increased patient contacts, like e.g. more phone calls and longer visits
  • The strongest identified effect (although, still fairly small) concerns documentation practices. Especially, the respondents experienced that they are more restrictive in their notes now. This effect mostly concerns other conditions than cancer, like obesity and mental illness
  • The majority of the respondents do not see that the care has become safer as an effect of patients accessing the PAEHR
  • There were very few significant differences between the answers from physicians and nurses

The article is published open access here, where you can find more results and details about the study. As has been the case for our earlier eHealth studies published lately, a press release has also been published by Uppsala University about this new study. You can find the press release (in Swedish) here. Let’s see how the new travels this time around!

Here is the article’s abstract:

Patient accessible electronic health records have been launched in many countries, and generally, health-care professionals have had strong initial concerns related to the areas patient contact, documentation practices and quality of care. Especially, oncology care was discussed in media when launching patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden. However, few studies have investigated clinician-perceived effects several years after the launch. A survey covering these areas, as well as supposed effects for patients, was distributed to oncology health-care professionals 6 years after the launch of patient accessible electronic health records and answered by N = 176. Results show that patient accessible electronic health records have had small effects within the covered areas, and that the area most affected was documentation practices. Very few significant differences could be found between physicians and nurses. A comparison with results from interviews and surveys conducted shortly after the launch of patient accessible electronic health records clearly indicates that the experienced negative effects are not as big as originally feared.

In parallel with the work on the recently published survey study, a larger research group, also consisting of researchers from the DOME consortium, continues working with interviews with the oncology care professionals at Uppsala University Hospital. Thus, we will also provide you with more qualitative results on this topic.

This blog post has also appeared on Jonas Moll’s blog found here.

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