A federal rule went into effect in April requiring healthcare providers to give patients on-demand electronic access to their health data at no cost. Some patients appreciate having their clinical notes, test results and other medical data at their fingertips, while others are overwhelmed by the information, Kaiser Health News reported May 18.

The rule gives patients more access to their health data, as they often had to pay fees, wait weeks or sort through copious paper files to obtain their health records before it was instated. Studies have shown that giving patients access to their health data can help them better understand their health, remember their treatment plan and adhere to their medication regimen. 

However, some patients feel distressed when they see test results or diagnoses in their patient portal without a healthcare professional’s explanation. Additionally, some physicians’ groups say they are unsure how they should handle information sharing for adolescents who don’t want their parents accessing sensitive data, according to Kaiser Health News.

Half of physicians reported writing their notes less candidly after they knew patients would be able to view them, according to a study published in April. Another study, published in February, revealed that 10 percent of patients have felt offended or judged after reading their clinical notes.