Why facilitate patient access to medical records

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2007:127:77-90.


The wider use of healthcare information systems and the easier integration and sharing of patient clinical information can facilitate a wider access to medical records. The main goal of this paper is to perform a systematic review to analyze published work that studied the impact of facilitating patients' access to their medical record. Moreover, this review includes the analysis of the potential benefits and drawbacks on patient attitudes, doctor-patient relationship and on medical practice. In order to fill a gap in terms of the electronic medical record (EMR) impact within this issue, this review will focus on the use of EMR for patients to access their medical records as well as the advantages and disadvantages that this can bring. The articles included in the study were identified using MEDLINE and Scopus databases and revised according to their title and abstract and, afterwards, their full text was read considering inclusion and exclusion criteria. From the 165 articles obtained in MEDLINE a total of 12 articles were selected. From Scopus, 2 articles were obtained, so a total of 14 articles were included in the review. The studies revealed that patients' access to medical records can be beneficial for both patients and doctors, since it enhances communication between them whilst helping patients to better understand their health condition. The drawbacks (for instance causing confusion and anxiety to patients) seem to be minimal. However, patients continue to show concerns about confidentiality and understanding what is written in their records. The studies showed that the use of EMR can bring several advantages in terms of security solutions as well as improving the correctness and completeness of the patient records.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • Patient Participation*