The state of medical image sharing is constantly in flux as multiple vectors drive changes in the field. There are several domains that can be identified as particularly influential: patients, insurance companies, technology, and trends such as mobile computing and telehealth.
As a responsible physician, you may worry about the potential effects of giving your patients electronic access to their medical images. However, many of these fears aren’t justified by the facts. If you’re worried about the dangers of giving your patients access to medical imaging studies, the following may help to put your mind at ease.
Savvy patients are demanding access to their medical information. They know that capturing this information at the point of treatment will save them time and aggravation should they need them in the future. Patients need more than a collection of their medical histories. They demand radiology reports, pathology reports, diagnoses, prescriptions, electronic health records, and medical imaging.
Usually the idea of patients controlling their own medical images strikes fear into the hearts of medical care professionals. Patients can jump to rash conclusions based off of their images, before even speaking to their medical care provider. While it may be controversial as to who should own medical images, the truth is having engaged patients will improve medical outcomes.
Why patients should own their medical images?
Despite doctors reluctantly providing medical images directly to patients - there is a real need for patients to insist on access and control of these images. After all, the patient is the central hub for all of the images, records, diagnoses, that relate to him or her. So, it is completely logical that the patient would be THE appropriate repository for all information related to her own medical history. Otherwise, her medical record may be incomplete which may impact prescribed treatment.