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Patients should validate personal health records for data integrity

Patients who question and validate their own health data can help improve data integrity, according to a report in this month’s Journal of AHIMA.

Data integrity is an ongoing challenge for most healthcare facilities. EHRs present more chances for copy-and-paste errors as multiple users enter data into patient files. Further complicating matters is meaningful use, which requires patients have timely, secure electronic access to their health information. The two may be mutually beneficial, the article suggests: If patients can help improve the accuracy of their data, clinicians can draw more accurate health intelligence from the data and in turn yield better decision-making.

To facilitate the patient do-it-yourself validation process, experts recommend that healthcare organizations develop portals that make patient collaboration easy, directly encourage patients to routinely check their personal health records and then report any inaccuracies. Physicians should also make a point of discussing test results or exam findings with patients, so they understand the content of the records.

In doing so, though, the authors said that healthcare providers should be prepared for an influx in reported errors and requested amendments. In other words, they need to designate someone to review and respond to these appeals. Educating patients on how to make these requests goes hand-in-hand with this too, of course, so patients understand what kinds of amendments may be approved or denied.

On the whole, giving patients access to their personal health records and involving them in their healthcare can yield improvements in care quality, as well as more accurate health information, the authors conclude.

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