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The ever-vigilant Ted Eytan MD writes:

I recommend taking a look at this and seeing if the proposed changes are more patient friendly, or if they go far enough to allow patients to see their health data online.

At issue is a bill in the California legislature to eliminate a blockage in online delivery of test results. At first blush it seems like a “Yesss!”, but when you slog through the language, here’s what it comes down to:

Current law:

…authorizes the results of a laboratory test … to be conveyed to the patient in electronic form …  if deemed most appropriate by the health care professional …

Huh? Only if the provider thinks it’s appropriate? Sounds like a great way for a provider to say “No, I think they need an office vi$it.”

In any case there’s an exception that forbids online delivery in these cases:

… existing law prohibits [online delivery] of test results relating to

  • HIV antibodies
  • the presence of hepatitis antigens
  • abuse of drugs
  • specified test results that reveal a malignancy.

I can see that these need to be handled sensitively; but, a law forbidding online delivery?? This time, regardless of what the provider thinks appropriate? Methinks the law doth speak out of both sides of its (opinionated) mouth.

Who wrote this??

ANYway, the new bill in the California legislature would change that – we think. But the question is, does it do it right? Specifically:

This bill would authorize [online delivery of those results] if

  • requested by the patient
  • [online delivery] is deemed most appropriate by the health care professional, and

… the corker – get ready for it – “and if…

  • a health care professional has already discussed the results with the patient.”

I do not get it.

What is this change accomplishing?  All they’re saying is that the previously excluded tests won’t be excluded anymore, but they’re adding a new condition: you can’t deliver it online until it’s been delivered offline.

My impression is that a major reason for online test results is because 7% of all results never get delivered, when they’re on paper (see here); and another biggie is the speed and convenience of delivery.

The proposed bill keeps in place the assumption that “doctor knows best in all cases,” yet overrides that by still requiring – by law – that the doctor must in every case discuss the results before delivering them electronically.

As I say, Ted asks that we opine on “if the proposed changes are more patient friendly, or if they go far enough to allow patients to see their health data online.” Please go to his site and opine, or comment here if you wish.

Try to compose your thoughts not just in terms of “patients’ rights,” but in terms of how each law might help or hinder effective care, as well as the patient’s and family’s rights.


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