Home and Community Care Digest
The research objective was to evaluate the patient and physician experiences of using SPARRO (System Providing Patients Access to Records Online), a patient-accessible EMR. SPARRO is a secure web-based application made up of three components: 1) the medical record; 2) a guide to heart failure; and 3) a messaging system.
Methods: In the randomized control trial, the intervention group (i.e., 54 patients with congestive heart failure) was provided access to SPARRO and a manual to the system, while the controls (i.e., 53 patients with congestive heart failure) received the usual care. Eight physicians participated in the study. Patients and physicians completed separate questionnaires before and after the trial period in order to assess their expectations of potential benefits and risks associated with SPARRO.
Findings: The intervention group felt that SPARRO had a positive effect on their chronic disease management. Yet, some patients had difficulty understanding the medical jargon. Patients also perceived the potential benefits of SPARRO to be: 1) learning more about their medical condition; 2) coordinating care; 3) learning about medical decision making; 4) reinforcing their memory regarding instructions or information from the visit; 5) increasing their participation in their care; 6) streamlining certain processes; and 7) confirming normal results and the accuracy of the medical record. Physicians became more supportive of the patient-accessible EMR since none of their initial concerns materialized during the trial.
Conclusions: With technology constantly evolving, there will be more interest in providing patients access to the medical records online. Nonetheless, the patient-accessible EMR requires further enhancements in order to maximize the potential for increased patient-centered care.
Reference: Earnest, MA, Ross, SE, Wittevrongel, L, Moore, LA, Lin, C. "Use of a Patient-Accessible Electronic Medical Record in a Practice for Congestive Heart Failure: Patient and Physician Experiences." Journal of the American Medical Infomatics Association, 2004, 11(5): 410-417.
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