Implications of Direct Patient Online Access to Radiology Reports Through Patient Web Portals

J Am Coll Radiol. 2016 Dec;13(12 Pt B):1608-1614. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2016.09.007.


In an era of increasing health information transparency and informed decision making, more patients are being provided with direct online access to their medical records, including radiology reports, via web-based portals. Although radiologists' narrative reports have previously been the purview of referring physicians, patients are now reading these on their own. Many potential benefits may result from patients reviewing their radiology reports, including improvements in patients' own understanding of their health, promotion of shared decision making and patient-physician communication, and, ultimately, improvements in patient outcomes. However, there may also be negative consequences, including confusion and anxiety among patients and longer patient-physician interactions. The rapid adoption of this new technology has led to major questions regarding ethics and professionalism for radiologists, including the following: Who is the intended audience of radiology reports? How should content be presented or worded? How will open access influence radiologists' relationships with patients and referring physicians? What legal ramifications may arise from increased patient access? The authors describe the current practices and research findings associated with patient online access to medical records, including radiology reports, and discuss several implications of this growing trend for the radiology profession.

Keywords: Radiology reports; electronic medical records; patient web portal; patient-centered radiology.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Security / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Confidentiality / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Electronic Health Records / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Electronic Health Records / organization & administration
  • Electronic Mail
  • Internet / organization & administration*
  • Online Systems
  • Patient Participation* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Portals / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Radiologists / organization & administration*
  • Radiology Information Systems / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Radiology Information Systems / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • User-Computer Interface