Data Science

Access to Healthcare Data May Cause Patient Stress. Student Editorial.

Citation: Wodzisz, A. (2023). Access to healthcare data may cause patient stress. Student Editorial. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 26(3).

Nursing informatics has come a long way over the last decade. I remember going into my physician’s office for appointments and seeing the filing cabinets with all the patient information behind the secretary’s desk. Back then we would have had to ask for a copy of our charts if we wanted to see them, but today we can see our charts with the touch of our finger.

Today, many may be very familiar with MyChart (Epic Systems Corporation, n.d.). MyChart is an app that one can download on their phone and see all the notes that are being charted in their electronic health record (EHR), new labs results, and any information that is put into their EHR. This is great as a patient because you have all the information about your health right at your fingertips. But is this a good thing from the healthcare provider's perspective? 

I recently had a patient who I was taking care of with a pleural effusion. This patient was receiving daily chest x-rays and was able to see them in MyChart. On the day that I was caring for my patient, I received a call from another nurse stating that my patient was having a panic attack. I rushed to my patient’s room to try and understand what was going on. My patient had seen her chest x-ray and was comparing it to the previous day's x-ray. The most recent chest x-ray looked like the patient had more fluid in her lungs than the previous day. Due to this, she began to be very emotional and stated she was having an anxiety attack. I was able to page the provider to come in and explain what was happening. Once the provider came and explained the plan to ensure that we were draining the excess fluid, the patient was able to relax and ensure she was receiving the proper care.

In this instance, it was great that the patient had access to all or her x-rays, but it led to an unnecessary panic attack. If the patient had waited for the doctor to come and explain the chest x-ray to her then we could have avoided the panic attack and been able to proceed with her care with less stress. Although healthcare apps like MyChart are very useful, they can cause unnecessary stress for patients who are not literate in healthcare. This leads them to be misled about their care and could even cause them to try and get the care they may not necessarily need.

Informatics in healthcare has gone above and beyond, giving us so much access to our care that we may not even know what to do with it. I have also seen people struggle with setting up the app and understanding how to use it. So how do we expect our patients to be able to interpret their healthcare information? Overall, MyChart is a wonderful tool to use to stay up to date on your care. However, it is important to ensure that our patients understand that they must still interact with their healthcare providers to fully understand the full picture of their health, before jumping to conclusions based on information put on their charts.

Online Journal of Nursing Informatics

Powered by the HIMSS Foundation and the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community, the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics is a free, international, peer reviewed publication that is published three times a year and supports all functional areas of nursing informatics.

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Epic Systems Corporation. (n.d.) My Chart app.