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.
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