Hyperlinks in electronic test results encourage sharing of health information

Physicians were more likely to click on a hyperlink for more information contained in a patient's electronic test report than to type in that link from a paper letter, according to a new study from Denmark.

As part of a regional breast cancer screening program, doctors were sent a link to a website about the program and breast cancer in general. In all, 108 (45 percent) reported using the link--22 percent from the paper letter and 37 percent from the hyperlink in the electronic test results.

In the paper published this week in Medical Informatics and Decision-making, the researchers concluded that embedded links could be a feasible strategy for disseminating and sharing various types of healthcare information.

"It is likely that relevance and timeliness are more important than easy access as usage increased when the hyperlinks were inserted into patient-specific communication," the researchers wrote. "In some respects, the hyperlink could be considered a reminder; in the present case, a reminder that gave access to additional information."

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently kicked off an effort to rank the educational effectiveness of electronic health records.So far, AHRQ already has developed a draft "Health Information Rating System" based on existing ratings systems. It divides materials up according to their understandability (the ability for consumers with varying degrees of health literacy to be able to process and explain key messages ) and their actionability (the ability for those same consumers to identify what actions can be taken based on the information presented).

To learn more:
- read the study


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