Having access to your medical records improves care
Around 80% of internet users search for health information online. We know that patients who read health notes from their doctors feel more involved in their care, are better prepared for visits, and are more likely to follow doctor advice. This is true for all ethnic groups. Caregivers also benefit from access to health information. On April 5 2021, a new federal rule will require healthcare providers in the United States to give patients free access to all the health information in their electronic medical records. In the past, accessing health information was not always easy, and often required time, effort, and money. The new rule will allow free and timely access to health records through secure online portals. In the future, it should be possible to ensure that patients can choose how and when they receive their personal health information.
Concerns about online access and sharing records
People without digital or internet access will still have a hard time accessing their health information even after the new rule takes effect. Another concern is that doctors will be able to block certain information. For example, doctors can hide information if they believe the patient may harm themselves or others after reading their personal health information. Also, the new rule does not change who owns health records. In half of all U.S. states, hospitals or doctors own patient health records. In other states, they share records with patients. Full sharing of personal health information should strengthen communication between patients and doctors, improve health literacy, promote self-management, enhance teamwork, and increase trust. Patient voices must be at the center of discussions about information and data-sharing in healthcare.