The electronic health record has many benefits, among which are improved access for both patients and providers; ease of medical records review; and enhanced quality of care. However, many patient groups have voiced their concern regarding the difficulty of accessing their medical records. Patient access to health data is vital because without that patients can neither fully review their personal health information nor be fully engaged in their care.Not only patients, but caregivers also find getting access to medical records quite challenging. This becomes more difficult when patients switch doctors or are experiencing a health crisis. According to government studies, patients are often unaware of the right channels for obtaining their records and are often in a hurry when they need those records.
The ONC (The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) says that in the current medical record request process, patients and health systems are often at odds, with each struggling through an inefficient system to accomplish tasks with limited resources. These two user groups have the same shared needs and goals.
How can patient access to their medical records be made easier?
- Create patient portals that allow patients to easily request and gain access to their records.
- Use electronic verification processes to ensure speedy processing of requests and confirm the record requester’s identity.
- Offer an online process that is clearly outlined in user-friendly language.
- Provide online tracking for requests in patient portals.
- Make it clear to the patients that medical records can be requested in both physical and digital forms.
- Encourage increased use of patient portals by offering other useful online services such as appointment scheduling, secure physician messaging, and prescription refills.
Stakeholders in the industry are always looking to implement innovative tools to assist patients and providers. Accordingly, a new Health Records Request Wizard tool has been developed that aims at allowing seamless patient data access. The prototype of this tool was announced in September 2018 at the Biden Cancer Summit. With this tool, it is easier for patients to request digital copies of their medical records and download their information on relevant patient engagement technologies. The Wizard tool can be used by health information management professionals to change workflow processing for consumer-generated information requests. The tool will help create improved consumer engagement experiences by streamlining complexity in the healthcare environment. It is expected that this tool can be perfectly implemented because it has been developed with input from patients, providers, health information management professionals, and other healthcare administrators. Many leading organizations have committed to incorporating important lessons from the Wizard project and the tool itself into their own work. Among the committed organizations are:
- CARIN Alliance
- Door County Medical Center
- Marshfield Clinic Health System
- National Partnership for Women & Families
- Norton Healthcare
- Texas State University Department of Health Information Management
- University of Wisconsin HIM and Technology Program
- X4 Health
Innovative technology such as the above will help to ensure more constructive patient engagement, patient access to healthcare and consumer satisfaction. Tech developments such as these are exciting developments for medical record retrieval companies also because of the ease of record retrieval that is ensured. With patient engagement, patient access to healthcare and consumer satisfaction ensured, the goal of value-based care can be achieved more easily. Patient satisfaction, procedure outcomes and patient loyalty are very important with regard to the financial security of healthcare organizations. So, providers must focus on patient-centred processes to make sure that patients can easily and affordably engage in the relationships they need to maintain wellness.