Department of Health and Human Services Resource Improves Patient Health Information Access
The Department of Health and Human Services hopes to empower patients and improve access to electronic health data.
A joint effort led by the US Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the White House Office of American Innovation is making it easier than ever for Americans to access their health information.
With the release of the ONC Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records,1 Americans have been provided with an online resource, created for both patients and caregivers, that empowers patients and improves access to their electronic 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 Don Rucker, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, in an HHS press release.2
The ONC Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records provides patients and caregivers with actionable advice outlining how to access and check health records; how to ensure that records are complete, correct, and up-to-date; and how to use their health records to “better coordinate care…using apps and other digital technologies to better manage and improve their health.”2
According to the same press release, patients' ability to access and use their own health information electronically is “a measure of interoperability and a cornerstone of ONC's efforts to increase patient engagement, improve health outcomes, and advance person-centered health.”
Although half of all individuals offered access to their online medical records in 2017 chose to view their health data, challenges still remain: those who did not access their record cited a “perceived lack of need” as a primary reason. ONC also cited a lack of consumer understanding of patients' rights to access their health information. Additional challenges faced by patients were outlined in a report released in June 2017.3
- Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The Guide to Getting & Using Your Health Records. HealthIT.gov. https://www.healthit.gov/how-to-get-your-health-record/. 2018. Accessed April 5, 2018.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. HHS releases a new resource to help individuals access and use their health information [news release]. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2018/04/04/hhs-releases-a-new-resource-to-help-individuals-access-and-use-their-health-information.html. Published April 4, 2018. Accessed April 5, 2018.
- The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Improving the Health Records Request Process for Patients: Insights from User Experience Research. https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/onc_records-request-research-report_2017-06-01.pdf. Published June 1, 2017. Accessed April 5, 2018.