October 30, 2017 --
Hospitals are increasingly implementing online patient portals, but there is a lack of guidance on how best to release potentially sensitive information such as radiology results. This fosters variability in hospital policies, according to presenter Dr. Sean Woolen of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Some centers may prioritize the ability of the physician to communicate results before a patient is able to see them, while others may emphasize enabling patients to view their results without physician oversight, Woolen said. With the intention of creating a patient-centered policy, the researchers sought to determine an optimal embargo period for automated release of radiology test results.
After surveying patients, the researchers observed that they prefer to receive results as fast as possible, from their doctor, and over the phone. Woolen and colleagues recommend that the embargo period for automated release of radiology results to the online patient portal be tailored to local practice communication patterns and office visit wait times.
"In comparison to the option of having radiology results immediately released to the online patient portal without their doctor's involvement, patients would be willing to wait at least six days to get their results from their doctor in their doctor's office and 10 days to get their results from their doctor over the phone," Woolen told AuntMinnie.com. "Any waiting period beyond that is associated with greater disutility than immediate release."
The researchers also found that older patients placed greater weight on direct contact with their physician and were less likely to appreciate the benefits of the online patient portal, according to senior study author Dr. Matthew Davenport.
"Therefore, offering patients the ability to customize the use and length of their specific embargo period is likely ideal," Davenport said.