As doctors and nurses continue to gather health information electronically, some experts predict a new void of health care jobs helping to educate patients on how to use the data to their advantage.

Empowering patients

And that’s good news, according to Desla Mancilla, DHA, RHIA. She says patients and doctors stand to benefit from greater portable management and access of electronic health records, but education will be key.

“We’re starting to see organizations hire portable managers who are not only responsible for ensuring the system is deigned in such a way that the data is there for patients,” explains Mancilla, who’s senior director of academic affairs at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), “They’re also involved in helping educate patients about the portals themselves, and how to access them—and why they would want to.”

For instance, if a patient gets a chest X-Ray at one doctor’s office, but goes to another doctor two days later with the same symptoms, the second doctor may order the same test. But an accessible mobile health record can enable that patient to show her doctor his or her scan, avoiding unnecessary fees, and saving time all around.

“There’s a lot of benefit to be seen from increased transparency,” Mancilla says. “When a patient has access to their test results, they can better advocate for themselves.”

Communication is key

Mancilla also points out that the mobile health field likely would see a greater need for professionals who can verse patients in health literacy so they may better understand their test results. “I think we need to do a whole lot more in the world of education,” she adds, “both clinical and non-clinical, in terms of just how to communicate more effectively with patients.”

As mobile health grows, she also expects a need for advocates to push for more health record transparency in states where these access laws may be stricter, as well as for policymakers to fight for the safe transport of this sensitive data among health care providers and their patients.

“There’s a whole lot that needs to be done with regards to how technology is developed,” sums Mancilla, also including, “presentation from the health care side—from what it does [to] how it allows for the exchange of information far beyond the scope of which we’ve seen it perform so far.”