"I haven't seen a doctor in about three years. I moved across town and my PPO re-assigned me to a new doctor in my area. I got to asking myself "Will this doctor have my records? Surely because I belonged to a large PPO, they all know each other. My medical records will show up, right?"
Sound familiar? It's a pretty typical scenario. More times than not, patients go to their medical appointments unprepared and leave dismayed that the new doctor did not have their old records and instead, knew nothing about that person's medical history at all. In fact, it's been estimated that 70% of all referral visits happen without any information being shared with the new provider. Yikes.
Most people don't give any thought about their records, and what information they might need until the day of the appointment. At that time, you may say "I need my medical records. Now what?!?"
Everyone should request and store a copy of their own healthcare records. In the past, we left that up to our doctors, but things have changed. In this fast paced world, there are a number of reasons why people are constantly changing providers. New jobs, new insurance plans, changes in coverage with health reform, and providers who leave a hospital system or practice. That, more often than not, leaves you without access to your medical records.
It is time to take responsibility for your own health information.
Here are three steps to help you obtain your records:
- Make a list of all of your providers. Include specialists, radiology, labs, and other types of healthcare you've had, such as physical therapy.
- Refer to these references to see who to contact for your records:
- PPO - Each doctor and department holds records in their offices. Records on paper are typically moved to storage.
- HMO - Has a centralized medical records department where your records are made available to each provider in the network. TIP: Even though your next doctor may have access to your records, they will not have all your past histories. When electronic charts were implemented, there was a cutoff date put in place.
- Private Practice - Each doctor keeps your records in their possession. Current records should be in their office, and older records are often maintained by a storage company. TIP: Most states only require records to be kept for 7 years. It's important to access as much as you can to establish your health baseline.
- Contact each provider, request a copy of your records. They will have a process, and it will vary from state to state and office to office. You'll have to sign an authorization release form, and providers are able to charge a "reasonable" fee to cover the administrative costs of your request. It is your right, under HIPAA, to get a copy of these records. You may also ask for a copy to be sent to your new provider. Ask for both.
This is an overwhelming task, especially if you've got multiple specialists, or see providers across different hospital systems. While many have a patient portal where you can access some data, it's really only a snapshot, and not the complete record.
The other alternative is to rely on a service like CareSync. It's all we do, so we've got the process down, and are connecting people with their health information to help them be savvier, better consumers of healthcare, and to improve their experience.
CareSync gets all of a user's medical records from all of their providers, and enters the data in a way that makes it accessible, meaningful to the patient, collaborative so family and caregivers can help participate, and convenient with tools to easily share, and care coordination services to help prepare for your upcoming visits.
To learn more, visit our website, http://caresync.com. It's free to use the application, and the CareSync Plus health concierge services are offered at a variety of prices to fit every budget.