Changes in Documentation Due to Patient Access to Electronic Health Records: Protocol for a Scoping Review

JMIR Res Protoc. 2023 Aug 28:12:e46722. doi: 10.2196/46722.


Background: Internationally, patient-accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs) are increasingly being implemented. Despite reported benefits to patients, the innovation has prompted concerns among health care professionals (HCPs), including the possibility that access incurs a "dumbing down" of clinical records. Currently, no review has investigated empirical evidence of whether and how documentation changes after introducing PAEHRs.

Objective: This paper presents the protocol for a scoping review examining potential subjective and objective changes in HCPs documentation after using PAEHRs.

Methods: This scoping review will be carried out based on the framework of Arksey and O'Malley. Several databases will be used to conduct a literature search (APA PsycInfo, CINAHL, PubMed, and Web of Science Core Collection). Authors will participate in screening identified papers to explore the research questions: How do PAEHRs affect HCPs' documentation practices? and What subjective and objective changes to the clinical notes arise after patient access? Only studies that relate to actual use experiences, and not merely prior expectations about PAEHRs, will be selected in the review. Data abstraction will include but will not be limited to publication type, publication year, country, sample characteristics, setting, study aim, research question, and conclusions. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool will be used to assess the quality of the studies included.

Results: The results from this scoping review will be presented as a narrative synthesis structured along the key themes of the corpus of evidence. Additional data will be prepared in charts or tabular format. We anticipate the results to be presented in a scoping review at a later date. They will be disseminated at scientific conferences and through publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Conclusions: This is the first scoping review that considers potential change in documentation after implementation of PAEHRs. The results can potentially help affirm or refute prior opinions and expectations among various stakeholders about the use of PAEHRs and thereby help to address uncertainties. Results may help to provide guidance to clinicians in writing notes and thus have immediate practical relevance to care. In addition, the review will help to identify any substantive research gaps in this field of research. In the longer term, our findings may contribute to the development of shared documentation guidelines, which in turn are central to improving patient communication and safety.

International registered report identifier (irrid): PRR1-10.2196/46722.

Keywords: documentation change; electronic health record; electronic portal; librarian; library science; natural language processing; online record access; patient access; patient portal; patient-accessible electronic health record; patient-clinician relationship; review method; scoping review.