Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Troubled Teens Could Benefit from Online Access to Health Records, Say Researchers

 

From the 22 October 2012 article at ScienceDaily

 

 Online health records could be surprisingly useful for at-risk teenagers who cycle through the juvenile justice system. A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center found that these young people have high rates of Internet use and an unexpectedly favorable attitude toward accessing their health records online.

Teens who get in trouble with the law could particularly benefit from online health records because they generally have worse health than other adolescents — and no one keeping track of the health care they do receive. These teens’ health problems range from spotty immunization histories to chronic diseases such as asthma, sexually transmitted infections, mental illnesses and substance abuse. And not only do poverty, difficult relationships with their parents and frequent moves make it hard for them to get consistent health care, these problems also increase the chances that doctors who are treating them will not have access to their medical histories..

The teens were enthusiastic about the option, with 90 percent saying it would be useful to have their health information automatically put online so they could access it later.

“I didn’t expect this level of interest because they don’t typically think of health as something that’s part of their daily lives,” Anoshiravani said, adding that these teens engage in risky behaviors that make them seem cavalier about their health.

These teens’ need for reliable and accessible health records is made even more urgent because they often do not have family members overseeing health-related chores, such as tracking immunizations and medications, checking lab results or recording their medical history. The lack of records is a problem not just in the short term but also when these teens reach adulthood, especially for those who survived serious medical events in childhood. “They may turn 18 and not know they were born with a heart defect that was surgically repaired,” Anoshiravani said.

Contrast that situation to a typical teenager. “A parent or grandparent is going with them to the doctor and keeping their health records,” Anoshiravani said, noting that troubled teens don’t have that help. And it’s not realistic to expect these teens to keep a hard copy of their medical file. “Carrying around pieces of paper that they could lose did not make sense to them, but having a place to check this information online did make a lot of sense,” he added.

The researchers were surprised to find that the teenagers would also share online health records: The vast majority of the respondents were willing to share their records with doctors and half said they would want to share the information with their parents.

The next step, Anoshiravani said, is to implement and test online health records for at-risk teens. The biggest challenge will revolve around the issue of information-sharing, since minors’ parents are entitled to see some parts of their health records, while other types of records cannot be shared with parents without the patients’ consent….

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October 22, 2012 - Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , ,

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