But even benign results can be hard for the layperson to interpret.
"A number without a contextual relationship and without some level of interpretation is totally worthless …Relaying data to a patient is totally unrelated to relaying information to a patient," Bernard Emkes, MD, medical director managed care services at St Vincent Health in Indianapolis, said in a recent interview about the proposed CLIA rule. "Data is 'Your A1C level is 11.' Information is 'Your A1C level is 11 and oh my God we've got to get on this right now and here's what we need to do.'"
Most agree that patients need help interpreting and understanding lab results—however those results are delivered. One solution is to include an explanation of any test results delivered via a PHR or other direct-to-patient means and include links to more detailed information.
The CLIA rule would make patients more involved in their own care, said Alice Leiter, director of health IT policy at the National Partnership for Women & Families, in a recent interview. It would allow patients to "loop back around to their care team so that patients and providers can work together on how to interpret and understand lab results."