I've moved a bunch, and in the process become a pro at adding healthcare record retrieval to my must-do moving checklist.
However, if you've never requested your medical records before, the process can seem a tad overwhelming. But a basic understanding of your rights as a patient, knowing the laws in your state, and following some of the following recommendations will help make the process a little easier.
- Start out by checking your practice or hospital's website for their policies regarding health record requests. It's nice to know what you'll need before you show up there without what you need. Plus, a lot of facilities keep these forms online, so you can fill them out in advance. You might even save yourself a trip.
- When filling out the request forms, provide the most thorough information you can provide. More is more when it comes to getting these documents quickly--the faster the records department can find your data, the faster you'll have them in hand.
- Bring ID. And more than one form. With one practice, I needed to show two Social Security numbers, a birth certificate, and a driver's license. Worth noting, a records request will (and should) be denied if you cannot prove your identity.
- Plan to pay. Laws vary from state to state, but in general, most practices and hospitals will charge a fee to cover the resources used to process and distribute your record request.
- I found that it helps if you explain why you are requesting the records. For me, it was "I've moved and want to establish Benjamin with a new pediatrician." While I wanted his complete record, I suppose that there would be reasons why you'd just want a specific section. And since most practices charge for this, being specific might save you a few dollars.
- If the request is urgent, let them know. On the flip side, if it's not urgent, let them know that too. Most records departments will triage the requests. It just feels like one of those karma things to me.
- Plan ahead. I suspect this would have been a less painful process for me had I done this with any level of organization. It took more time than I anticipated, so my advice would be to get your records well in advance of when you'll need them, and not when you're trying to book your well-child visit 6 months later. I can assure you, that didn't work out so well for me.
- Store them somewhere. Clearly, I choose to store my family health records on CareSync, but please store them on some secure cloud-based system. At a minimum. I panic at the thought of having to go through this process again.
If you're still feeling overwhelmed, you've got options. At CareSync, we have a team of experienced Health Assistants who are on call to do the legwork for you.
Our Health Assistants will reach out to your physicians to collect your paper and electronic records, and enter the data into your CareSync account. If you've seen a bunch of specialists, or are just busy and disorganized like me, this is a fantastic option to get the pieces of your health record all in one place.
Do you have any other tips to add to this process? What did I miss?