According to a Pew Research Center report, one in seven Americans in their 40s and 50s are both raising or supporting a child and participating in the care of an aging parent. I’m more or less a member of this group. I have two teenagers who rely on me, and I share caregiving responsibilities for a family member who needs help managing her own care.
Many stresses come with the role of caregiver or care partner, but with the widespread adoption of electronic health records, struggling to get access to health information should not be one of them. We know from research conducted by our colleague Jennifer Wolff at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that caregivers benefit from access to notes as much and in similar ways as do patients themselves. Note sharing allows caregivers to save time, granting them immediate access to information they need without having to call the doctor’s office. Caregivers can also rapidly identify errors in the record, making care safer.
The number of people serving as a family or informal caregiver is increasing, and the stress they feel is a very real concern. We should be doing everything we can to ease that burden, including making it as easy as possible for caregivers to get the information they need.
“The evidence-base is clear: providing patients access to their physician’s notes improves physician-patient communication and trust, patient safety, and perhaps even patient outcomes,” Thomas Payne, MD, FACP, FACMI, AMIA Board Chair