ONC Published a New Patient Guidebook to Encourage Patient Health Record Access

ONC Published a New Patient Guidebook to Encourage Patient Health Record Access

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) published a new guidebook on health record access for patients. The published material gives patients the helpful information on accessing their health data. It has tips on checking a patient’s health records and correcting errors, if there’s any. It also explains how patients can use and share their health data the right way. There’s even a section that explains the health apps and other technologies that patients can use to manage their health.

As per the HIPAA Privacy Rule, patients can get copies of their health information from healthcare providers. This rule was implemented since April 14, 2001 but many Americans still do not know this right.  Because ONC prioritizes patient access to health data, it released a video series in 2016 to teach patients about their right to access their health data. The new guidebook serves to further explain how easy it is for patients to get copies their electronic health data.

The ONC Guide to Getting and Using your Health Data is part of ONC’s MyHealthEData project. It seeks to give patients better engagement with their own healthcare. It supports the goal of the 21st Century Cures Act to improve access to electronic health information. According to Dr. Don Rucker, the national coordinator for health information technology, patients and their caregivers need their health information to make good decisions regarding their care and treatments. The guidebook will provide patients the answers to their questions regarding their health information.

One of the challenges that patients face when accessing their electronic health data is resistance from healthcare providers or health plans. When patients are aware of their rights, they are empowered to claim their rights and overcome the resistance.

Another problem that the guidebook seeks to solve is the patient’s lack of understanding why they need to view their health data. The guidebook explains to patients why taking an active role on their own healthcare is beneficial.

ONC’s data show that 52% of patients already have access to their health data online but only half of them or 28% of Americans have viewed them. 76% of patients who did not view their health data said that they would rather speak to their healthcare provider. 59% said they did not need their online record.

When healthcare providers encourage their patients to view their health records, the statistics improved. 63% of patients who were encouraged to view their electronic health data did so. Hopefully, the new guidebook will help improve the numbers all the more.