Take ownership of your medical records
Studies show the best health care outcomes occur when we work with our medical providers as partners in determining the best course of treatment; when we have open lines of communication; and when we are highly involved in the decision-making process pertaining to our care.
One important element of being an empowered patient is taking ownership of your medical records. As more health care providers move into electronic record keeping, it should become easier for us to access that information. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 90 percent of physicians and 70 percent of hospitals are expected to rely on electronic medical records within the next six years.
It’s clear, though, this shift to the digital age isn’t happening at the same rate. We recently asked members in an online poll about accessing their medical records. Of the more than 1,000 responses, about 80 percent had asked for copies. Getting that information, however, ranged from “easy as pie,” to “it’s very tricky to get them without a fight ... and spending $30 to $100.” Another person says, “The general feeling I get when requesting my medical records [is that] they are not mine.”
Well of course your records are yours, and you have every right to them. The good news is that more than 60 percent of poll respondents say they didn’t pay a dime to access their records. But here’s even better news: If your physician hasn’t embraced the trend to provide these records easily, you don’t have to wait. Angie’s List has partnered with NoMoreClipboard to offer members a free tool called an electronic personal health record (e-PHR) that’s available on our Member Benefits and Health & Wellness home pages. The tool enables you to store and manage a wide array of health information in one, easily accessible location. This personalized and secure e-PHR account lets you import and access health information ranging from your kids’ immunization records to the list of the medications your mother takes and when she needs to take them, all at the click of a mouse.
How nice would it be to be able to review and control the information in your medical records at any time? That would help ensure the information contained in your medical history is accurate and could be easily shared with all of your physicians via one platform. By accessing this valuable tool, you can reduce the time you spend in your practitioner’s office by printing your health records to take to appointments; emailing medical information to your provider; requesting a release of your medical records; or having test results sent directly to your account.
Taking charge of your health care records and sharing those with your doctors can also save you money. In an emergency situation, for example, your digital records will allow you to provide doctors immediate access to all of your information. That can help reduce the likelihood of a medical error or unnecessary treatment. Being in control of your health records is just one more way you can become an empowered patient. I encourage members to take advantage and get engaged. Here’s to your good health and continued empowerment.