shutterstock_2143243899_1.jpegThe idea of a “patient portal” where patients can benotified of a test result that they can access themselveshas evolved out of the 21Century Cares Act whichrequires the electronic release of all patient testresults and documents without delay. Many of youhave taken advantage of this technology from yourhealth care system. The problems occur when some ofthe information indicates a serious problem such as acancer. This is what I refer to as information withoutcommentary. Take the case of women telling herdaughter that her colonoscopic biopsy was not cancerbut then remarking “but what is a lymphoma?”.

Not all patients are happy with the rapid, electronicrelease of information. Studies have shown thatpatients who reviewed abnormal results before beingcontacted by their physician had increased anxiety andworry. There is often confusion about what the resultsof some tests may indicate and what they may meanfor your ongoing workup or care.

Your need to be your own advocate. If you have hadan advanced test such as a biopsy, cat scan, MRI, etc.,there should be an opportunity for you to discuss thiswith the ordering physician in a timely fashion. Evensimple tests such as blood sugars and others may havesignificance. I know that many patients will turn to theInternet for information but the context and guidanceyou need should come from the physician involved.Get the explanation you deserve from the bestsource.