Can electronic health records help improve patients' understanding of medications?

Jennifer R. Webb, Joseph Feinglass, Gregory Makoul, Cheryl L. Wilkes, Daniel P. Dunham, David W. Baker, Michael S. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: To present pilot data from an ongoing electronic health record (EHR) quality improvement study to improve medication management using patient previsit review of the EHR medication list and a plain-language new medication information sheet to provide with every new EHR prescription. Study Design: Postvisit survey of 191 patients at an academic general internal medicine clinic. Methods: Patients were asked about discrepancies and problems, concerns, and questions (PCQs) in their EHR summary for up to 10 current medications and about knowledge of new prescriptions. Findings describe the extent of medication discrepancies, perceived PCQs about current medications, and patient knowledge about new medications. Results: Overall, 78.0% of patients had at least 1 discrepancy, more than half had a drug listed that they were not taking or dose or frequency discrepancies, and 8.8% reported an omission; 41.9% indicated at least 1 PCQ about their current medications. Among patients who received a new prescription, most knew what the new medication was for and how to take it. However, 66.0% indicated uncertainty about potential adverse effects that they should telephone the physician about. Conclusions: Discrepancies can be efficiently categorized by previsit review of EHR medication lists. Prereview offers physicians the opportunity to better address important medication PCQs. Testing the value of EHR-generated plain-language medication information sheets requires follow-up interviews after medications are filled. Patients may not understand the actual benefits of new medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-922
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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