The news: Patients want to see their test results online once they’re ready, even if a clinician hasn’t reviewed them, according to a study recently published in JAMA Network Open.
Digging into the data: Around 8,000 US patients (median age 64) who had recently accessed test results—such as blood work or imaging—via an online portal were surveyed in May 2022.
What the law requires: The 21st Century Cures Act mandated that providers release test results to patients without delay. This means that while physicians receive the results at the same time as patients, in many cases it’s the patient who reads them first.
Doctors push back: The American Medical Association (AMA) and other associations advocating for physicians have protested the rule, arguing that this specific requirement is causing patients mental and emotional harm.
Another study reveals different findings: The AMA conducted its own survey, asking 1,000 patients last year if they want their physicians to contact them about test results before they show up in the portal. The findings of this survey differed from the JAMA study:
Our take: The JAMA study’s results are surprising to us. There might be some bias reflected in the sample since only patients who had previously accessed test results in the portal were included in the study cohort.
Lab and test results can be difficult for consumers to interpret and may send them on a wild internet goose chase, or even worse. It’s reasonable for physicians to request time to carefully review test results before patients see them. At a minimum, doctors should be able to ask patients their notification preferences for how quickly they want to see them and adjust accordingly.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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