should patients be doing more when it comes to their health records ii

Last time, we started discussing how electronic health records (EHRs) are rapidly becoming the new norm in both physician’s offices and hospitals. We also discussed how patients should be aware that despite their utility, EHRs can present certain dangers for patients from missing data to incorrect information.

In today’s post, we’ll continue this discussion, examining how a patient can assume control of their EHR and why this is so important.

How exactly can a patient assume control of their EHR?

Simply put, just ask your provider for a copy of your EHR. If this sounds like a somewhat intimidating prospect, consider that federal law expressly grants you, the patient, this very important right.

Indeed, thanks to certain Medicare bonuses, many hospitals, physicians’ offices and large health care systems now offer online portals through which patients can download their records. Furthermore, the federal government’s Blue Button program enables both Veteran’s Administration and Medicare patients to access their health records online.

How long do providers have to provide me with a copy of my EHR?

Providers have 30 days to secure the requested information. It should also be noted that while they can charge a nominal fee for this reproduction, they cannot charge any fees for the act of locating and/or retrieving them.

Is this really worth doing?

Yes. Securing a copy of your EHR enables you to identify any medical errors and bring them to your provider’s attention, while also supplementing it with any missing information that could prove vital to your care.

Furthermore, having a copy of your EHR can help facilitate productive meetings with specialists, aid in the securing of a second opinion and assist you in the search for more affordable health care.

Will it be more information than I know what to do with?

Most of the information in your chart should be understandable and, if not, it can always be verified with a provider. Regarding organization, there are now software programs specifically designed to help create personal health records.

Have you ever requested a copy of your EHR? If so, did it uncover any inconsistencies or missing information?

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