Recent consumer health informatics initiatives advocate individual access and management of personal medical records. However, little is known regarding the impact of personal access of health information on clinical practice. This paper introduces a field study investigating the usage patterns of personal health records in medical consultations. The self-managed records provide patients with a strong sense of ownership and control over their own health information. Personal medical records have been used primarily for transiting information among different providers. This behavior changed patient-provider communication into a records sharing. Doing so effectively eliminated the potential errors in the verbal reporting process. This study indicates that patients can be effective contributors to their own health and suggest the design of health information systems to rethink the role of patients in the healthcare process and shift the responsibility of healthcare to the patients' side. © 2010 IMIA and SAHIA. All rights reserved.
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