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Table 1 The benefits and challenges of reformatting lab reports to address patient barriers to comprehension

From: Developing patient-friendly genetic and genomic test reports: formats to promote patient engagement and understanding

Option Benefits Challenges/limitations
Option 1: Interpretive summary · Includes short patient-friendly summary of test performed, results, interpretation and clinical recommendations · Only part of report that is patient-friendly is the boxed summary
· Easy for patients to find important results in multi-page report
· Requires minimal effort from lab
· May aid providers as well as patients in understanding results
· Clinicians can ‘borrow’ text from summary box to include in EMR
Option 2: Summary letter · Includes an overview of the information in the results report in a patient-friendly letter · Would require an EMR to work most effectively
· There is already an established practice in place (for example, genetic counselors writing letters) · Requires an extensive amount of time to set up templates/standardized text
· Letters are personalized for each patient · Requires additional time for each patient
· Requires collaboration between lab and clinician to write detailed letter
Option 3: Patient user guide · Includes an explanation of each section of the report in patient-friendly language · Would benefit from having an EMR in place
· Can assist patients in use of patient portal to review results · Requires an extensive amount of time to set up templates
· Providing user guide prior to testing may enable patients to be prepared for result · Only text that will be patient-friendly is the guide; text within the report may still be difficult to understand
· Would require minimal effort for each individual patient
Option 4: Complete patient-friendly report · The entire report is written in patient-friendly language · Requires an extensive amount of time to set up templates/standardized text
· May aid providers as well as patients in understanding results
· Providing a patient-friendly report in addition to a standard report may satisfy patients with higher literacy