EHRs should include patient-reported data

Electronic health records would be more useful if they contained self-reported data from patients, according to a new analysis published in the March issue of Health Affairs

EHRs should include patient-reported information about such topics as their health habits, psychosocial functioning and patient preferences in decision making. The authors, from the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, expressed concern that capturing data from only providers and payers but not patients themselves was insufficient for optimizing patients' health.

The analysts recommended that providers collect patient-reported data in a standardized data set of behavioral and psychosocial measures, such as eating patterns, medication adherence and health literacy. They acknowledged that providers sometimes collect this data, but that it's not standardized and often not recorded. They noted that patients are more likely to follow their providers' recommendations if they are engaged in their own treatment. The analysts also sought to dispel fears that patient-reported data would be "soft," difficult to collect and not actionable.

"The full potential of electronic health records will not be achieved without the inclusion of such patient-reported measures," the authors warned.

Patient engagement is a large component of Stage 2 of Meaningful Use; patients must be given the opportunity to view, download and transmit their medical records online. Other initiatives, such as those recently announced by Blue Cross, seek to increase patient involvement in health IT, according to an article in Government Health IT.

Patient self-reporting to their EHRs may be a way to bring patients into the health IT fold and meet or augment that criterion of Meaningful Use.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract of the analysis and commentary in Health Affairs
- read this article about the Blues' announcement in Government Health IT