Thursday, April 26, 2018

Get Down with Seniors’ Medical Records

On one side of the desk sat the physician, on the other side sat the patient, and on the desk between them was the computer displaying results of a full panel of blood tests, urine tests, wellness exam, and other measures of the patient’s medical situation. After scrolling the screen back and forth, the physician pursed her lips and gently shook her head. “Well, you’re doing okay overall,” she said, “but I would like to get that age down a bit.”
     A statistic about the patient that health care professionals are powerless to influence is the chronological age. However, those professionals might stimulate the senior citizen patient to maintain and improve health by having them carefully look through their medical records. A number of studies conclude that people who learn about their lab results become more engaged in preventive care and are more satisfied with the care they receive. A chief result is reductions in health delivery costs.
     Researchers at Åbo Akademi University in Finland and Örebro University in Sweden explored what leads seniors to be interested in doing this. They found that motivations significantly more likely to occur in older adults than in younger adults were:
  • “To get an overview of my health condition” 
  • “To check some details” 
  • “To follow up what was said during my last visit.” 
  • “To involve my family members in my care.” 
     These, then, can be used by the health care professionals as benefits statements to persuade the patient to seek information from their medical records.
     An especially good time for the senior to review the records is prior to a scheduled appointment with healthcare staff. This is because the older adults, compared with younger adults, say that if they don’t understand something in the record, they’ll ask during the next scheduled visit. The seniors were also more likely than the younger adults to say that reading the medical record improves communication with the healthcare professionals and helps them better understand their condition.
     The older adults were less likely than younger adults to search the internet for medical information. Related to this, they were more likely to say they’d expect an online medical record review to be difficult. Still, results from studies such as those at University of Cincinnati indicate that senior citizens are sufficiently computer-savvy to get medical information online. So in the future, preferences for online access of medical records might change.

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