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Pockethealth Bridges the Digital Divide With Report Reader

Pregnant woman reading imaging report on a tablet

Patients have the tools to access all their health records, but the information is meaningless if they can’t make sense of it.

Last October, providers adapted to the 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule that took effect. The provision, enforced by the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), mandates that healthcare providers share electronic health records with patients, without cost or delay. Failure to comply comes at a steep price, with providers subject to fines of up to US$1-million per violation.

The Final Rule ushers in a new era of transparency in healthcare – representing a giant leap forward in pursuit of patient-centered care. Research shows that patients who are granted access to their doctor’s notes find this information to be vital to their health management and share the information frequently with others. The benefits of transparency largely outweigh the risks. Access to this information also streamlines the transfer of care between facilities as it allows patients to view and share data from their smartphone or computer with any specialist who needs to see it.

The provision influenced the industry to update their systems and providers generally welcomed this transformation. Patients were also in a better place – having access to records keeps them in-the-know and gives them the ability to share their health records with all members of their care team.

However, there’s a concern that patients may be overwhelmed when they see their report notes for the first time, before speaking with their doctor. The sheer amount of information contained in a patient’s file, often in the form of technical clinical notes and medical jargon, can be daunting for even the most knowledgeable of patients. 

Naturally, these patients may head to the web and search through scores of sites, some are credible and some may be biased. In fact, 71% of patients say they actively research their health conditions, according to PocketHealth’s 2022 Patient Pulse Report.

In a recent interview with D Magazine Dr. David Gerber, an oncologist at U.T. Southwestern, explains that report notes are often intended for the referring physician – an audience that differs from patients. “That’s where we’ve seen a lot of emotional psychosocial distress and misunderstanding,” said Gerber. “For some information, if you hear it in the context of someone who understands the significance, what it means and what the plan is, that can prevent people from assuming something is harmful or serious when it’s not.”

Steps to Minimize the Misunderstandings

As radiologists, who already face healthcare system pressures,  mull the merits of writing two separate reports — one for doctors, one for patients — PocketHealth has provided an alternative that spares patients from sifting through unreliable research. The platform, which allows patients to instantly access and share their imaging results, features Report Reader to help them make sense of what they’re seeing. 

When patients view their radiology reports through PocketHealth, complex medical terms appear underlined with rollover definitions, helping users better understand their health. With an ever-expanding list of common (and commonly misunderstood) terms, Report Reader eliminates the need to navigate outside of the platform. Not only does it create a better experience for patients, it prevents excessive internet searches which can take them to non-credible sources.

Access to information is only useful if you’re able to make sense of it – Report Reader ensures that patients and providers are on the same page by the time their appointment rolls around. It also offers some peace of mind during an inherently stressful and emotional time.

For patients who have long dreamed of a day when the gatekeepers guarding their health data finally step aside. Those results will be waiting for them in their PocketHealth account, along with everything they need to make sense of it all.

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