Increasingly EHR systems like Epic are automatically releasing test results to patients. This release of health data should be a good thing.
But when a machine delivers data alone we fail to help patients achieve understanding of what it means. Personal health data without knowledge and wisdom is just a spreadsheet.
We have to figure out how to help patients understand data in the context of their individual story. Human doctors can translate and explain. But the availability and wisdom of health professionals can’t scale to match the growing sea of diagnostic data.
Smart machines might be there soon enough. But only if patients and health professionals are involved in their design and creation. We have to train machines to meet the real needs of patients.
Patient access to health data is a start. Supporting patients around their information in a way that empowers should be our endpoint.
Image modified from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.