Patients’ online access to their electronic health records and linked online services

Added May 9, 2020

Citation: Mold F, de Lusignan S, Sheikh A, et al. Patients’ online access to their electronic health records and linked online services: a systematic review in primary care. British Journal of General Practice 2015; 65(632): e141-51

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare services. Existing research on giving patients online access to their electronic health (or medical) record (EHR) and patient-centered care may provide information to help policy makers with this.

In this systematic review, the authors assessed the impact of giving patients access to their EHR and other EHR-linked online services on the provision, quality and safety of health care. They searched for studies published between 1999 and September 2012. They included 9 individually randomized trials, 3 cluster randomized trials, 4 cohort studies and 1 quasi-experimental trial. The studies were from Norway (3 studies), UK (1) and USA (13).

What was found: Patients reported improved satisfaction with online access to their EHR and services compared with standard provision, and also reported improved self-care and better communication and engagement with clinicians.

Patient safety was improved through patients identifying medication errors in their EHR and their increased use of preventive services.

Providing patients with online access to their EHR and services led to a moderate increase of e-mail, no change in telephone contact, and variable effects on face-to-face contact for clinicians.

There were no reports of harm or breaches in privacy.

There was a disparity in who accessed their online EHR and services, with people of non-white ethnicities and those from lower socioeconomic groups potentially being disadvantaged.

The potential benefits of giving patients online access to their EHR in many countries and for some long-term conditions is uncertain.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone.