- ONC has released the ONC Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records, an online resource that will inform patients, parents, and caregivers on how to access and share their health data and further promote patient-centered care. Patient data sharing is a critical aspect to a more comprehensive care process, according to ONC.
“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 Health Information Technology Don Rucker, MD.
“This guide will help answer some of the questions that patients may have when asking for their health information.”
The new resource supports the 21st Century Cures Act goal of empowering patients and improving patients’ access to their electronic health information. The guide also supports the recently announced MyHealthEData initiative, a strategy that allows patients to control their healthcare information.
Allowing patients to access their health data electronically is a measure of interoperability, and a cornerstone of ONC’s ongoing efforts to increase patient engagement, improve health outcomes, and advance patient-centered care.
More providers and patients are realizing the benefits of patient data access. A new ONC data brief shows that between 2014 and 2017, individuals’ access to online medical records increased by 24 percent.
In addition, 52 percent of patients nationwide reported that they were offered online access to their own medical records by their provider or insurer as of 2017.
Of those patients who were offered access to their medical records, 28 percent reported that they had viewed their record at least once in the past year. Eight in 10 of these individuals said that their records were easy to understand and useful for health monitoring.
ONC noted that these positive perceptions may be attributed to patients’ varied use of their online medical records. Having access to their records can allow patients to view test results, conveniently manage their health needs, communicate with their providers, and correct any errors that may occur in their medical data.
Despite the progress ONC has seen in patient data access, there are still significant challenges to overcome. Of those patients who were offered access to their online medical record in 2017, nearly half did not view their health data.
Fifty-nine percent of patients who did not view their records cited a perceived lack of need as one of their reasons for not doing so. ONC stated that because the patient record request process takes time, it is beneficial for individuals to access their health information before they experience an urgent health need.
Consumers also may not understand their right to access their records under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, or they may not realize the benefits of accessing their health information.
In a June 2017 report, ONC outlined some of the challenges patients face when accessing their health records, including time-consuming processes, problems transferring health data to other providers, and patients not knowing how long it will take to gain access to their data.
The ONC Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records aims to help overcome these challenges. The resource will educate patients on the value of accessing their medical data and provide them with clear, actionable advice on getting, checking, and using their health records.
The guide contains tips to assist patients through the process of accessing their records electronically, ensuring their records are up-to-date and complete, and sharing their records to better coordinate their care.
The resource also informs patients how to use apps and other digital technologies to better manage and improve their health.
To view the ONC Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records, click here.