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ONC provides online resource for accessing health data

Patients and caregivers need records to make decisions about their healthcare, says Don Rucker, MD.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released a new online resource to help give patients and caregivers access to their health records.

ONC’s guide is billed as the “steps, tips and tools” that individuals will need to “get, check and use” their health data.

“It’s important that patients and their caregivers have access to their own health information so they can make decisions about their care and treatments,” said National Coordinator for HIT Don Rucker, MD. “This guide will help answer some of the questions that patients may have when asking for their health information.”

Specifically, the guide is meant to provide users with advice on how to:
  • Get their health record, including offering tips through the process of accessing their records electronically.
  • Check their health record to make sure it is complete, correct and up-to-date.
  • Use their EHRs, such as sharing their records to better coordinate their care and using apps and other digital technologies to better manage and improve their health.

According to ONC, the guide is being made available as part of the MyHealthEData initiative, an effort to put patients in control of their own healthcare information. The initiative was announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last month at the HIMSS18 conference in Las Vegas.

Also See: Fed initiative to put patients in control of their health data

While patients have a right to see and get a copy of their health records from insurance plans and healthcare providers under HIPAA, ONC points out that gaining that access can still be a challenge.

According to the agency, 50 percent of Americans in 2017 reported that insurers or providers offered access to an online medical record, up from 42 percent in 2014. However, nearly half of Americans last year who were offered a chance to look at an online medical record did not access their information, reports ONC, noting a “perceived lack of need” as one of the reasons frequently cited by those surveyed for not accessing their data.

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