If you’ve tried it, you know: getting medical records can be a beast. Health data continues to move at a snail’s pace in a high-speed world. Whether tracking down health records from multiple specialists or trying to send records to a new doctor, patients often wait for months, rather than minutes, to get their health information where it needs to go.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) recent report, Improving the Health Records Request Process for Patients: Insights from User Experience Research, chronicles the challenges, successes and emotions patients and family caregivers experience as they trudge through the record request process.
ONC conducted interviews with consumers, analyzed medical record release forms and collaborated with stakeholders to uncover persistent barriers patients and providers face when making and responding to information requests.
The report reinforces findings from GetMyHealthData about the challenges patients and caregivers face getting the health information they need, when they need it. It also reveals that consumers and providers share the desire for a more streamlined and transparent request process.
So how can we remove the friction and improve the experience for everyone? ONC offers tips for health care practices on how to make the records request process less stressful for patients and health systems in the short-term. For example:
- Provide plain language instructions for patients and caregivers on how to request health records, what to expect and whom to contact with questions.
- Let patients request and receive their records from their patient portal.
- Create an electronic progress tracker that allows patients to see exactly where they are in the request process.
Meanwhile, at GetMyHealthData we are working with providers in New York to identify and promote best practices in data sharing. We will be sharing our first Bright Spot soon – stay tuned!