Surprisingly, we’re still on a learning curve when it comes to the availability of electronic health records, the digital way to access what used to be paper-only files.
You have a legal right to records held by doctors, hospitals and other providers. But many people don’t know how to get them — or even that they can. Others find it onerous that their doctors aren’t in the same medical network and they have to sign up for various portals that don’t “talk” to one another. That lack of coordination means you may need to be the one to communicate test results and other reports to your health care providers.
Yes, it might seem that this is just another task to put on your to-do list. But gaining access to all facets of your health information can be lifesaving in an emergency and makes it easier for each of your providers to know what the others are doing for you. Being able to access your records through your computer lets you keep track of medications and lab results, and access information about preventive care. It’s also the easy way to print reports and share them with specialists using different portals.
While the system isn’t perfect, almost half of all patients say electronic records have made the doctor-patient relationship better, according to a poll earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only a small percentage say it made things worse; the second-largest group saw no difference. You can have a voice in making the positive numbers grow by checking your records often and reporting any errors you see to that doctor’s office.
Find out more at HealthIT.gov, including how to use your health records to improve your health.