Patients Favor Online Records

A new online portal where patients at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics can see their electronic medical records is proving popular, reducing calls to doctors' offices and streamlining responses to patients' questions, an Iowa newspaper reported on Wednesday.

More than one-third of the university health system's patients have accessed their medical records online, even though the service has been available for less than six months and only covers seven departments.

Of the 35 percent of patients who have accessed the secure Web portal to date, nearly half viewed test results, according to the Des Moines Register. Another 12 percent looked at scheduled appointment times and 11 percent sent a message to a doctor or nurse.

The dermatology department was the first to implement the MyChart system back in July. Dr. Janet Fairley, the department head, told the newspaper that calls to the office have fallen since patients gained access to their records. Patients are using the system to send messages to their doctor's office, where they are first read by triage nurses.

Doctors also are reducing their use of physician lingo in records to avoid misinterpretation by patients, Fairley told the Register.

The university hospital system has invested $60 million in electronic health records during the past five years, the newspaper said.