Patient access to medical records and healthcare outcomes: a systematic review

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014 Jul-Aug;21(4):737-41. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2013-002239. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Objectives: We conducted a systematic review to determine the effect of providing patients access to their medical records (electronic or paper-based) on healthcare quality, as defined by measures of safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity.

Methods: Articles indexed in PubMed from January 1970 to January 2012 were reviewed. Twenty-seven English-language controlled studies were included. Outcomes were categorized as measures of effectiveness (n=19), patient-centeredness (n=16), and efficiency (n=2); no study addressed safety, timeliness, or equity.

Results: Outcomes were equivocal with respect to several aspects of effectiveness and patient-centeredness. Efficiency outcomes in terms of frequency of in-person and telephone encounters were mixed. Access to health records appeared to enhance patients' perceptions of control and reduced or had no effect on patient anxiety.

Conclusion: Although few positive findings generally favored patient access, the literature is unclear on whether providing patients access to their medical records improves quality.

Keywords: Patient Access; Personal Health Record.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Health Records / organization & administration*
  • Health Records, Personal
  • Humans
  • Medical Records
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Access to Records*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Quality of Health Care*