Are Patients in Control of Their Medical Records?

It seems obvious that you should be able to access your medical records whenever and wherever you want, but in reality, getting a copy of your medical records is no easy task. However, things might be getting just a little easier, according to a recent announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The MyHealthEData initiative will work to ensure that patients can receive an electronic copy of their medical records, as well as give them the right to transfer their records wherever they want. Under the Blue Button 2.0 program, patients will able to electronically access and share their health-care data, including prescription information and treatment history.

Improving patient access is commendable, but it remains to be seen whether the CMS program will lead to any real change, Eric Chan, a health-care attorney with Hooper, Lundy & Bookman in Los Angeles, told me. A technology company like Apple is more likely to improve access to medical records, Chan told me. Apple recently announced it would create a medical record using the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, he said.

MyHealthEData is certainly a step in the right direction, but it’s not a game changer, Marcy Wilder, an attorney with Hogan Lovells in Washington, told me. The initiative will help bring industry stakeholders together and call on private insurance carriers to open up their data to patients, but that alone won’t lead to full electronic health-data exchange, Wilder said.

The CMS also called for requiring hospitals to update their computer systems to enable medical record sharing, as well as specifying what data hospitals have to provide to patients upon discharge.

Read my full story here.

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