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New Tools Help Patients Be Stewards of Their Own Health Care Records

April 05, 2018

Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Apple Inc. have recently released tools designed to help patients more easily access and use their health records. The goal of this easier access is to support enhanced patient-provider engagement and, ultimately, better health.

ONC’s New Guide for Getting and Using Health Records

Released by HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), The Guide to Getting & Using Your Health Records provides steps, tips, and tools for patients, parents, and caregivers to access and use electronic health information. 

The online guide provides easy to understand information about:

  • What electronic health information is
  • How to access, use, and manage medical records
  • Recommendations for using health information to manage your health and care

According to ONC, as of 2017, about 28 percent of U.S. consumers accessed their medical records online:

  • About half (52%) of consumers were offered access to their medical records by a health provider or insurer
  • More than half of those consumers used that access to view their records during the past year
  • Of those, most (eight out of ten) found the records were easy to understand and useful

ONC’s new guide builds on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ recent announcements regarding MyHealthEData and Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0, two initiatives aimed at empowering patients by giving them access to and control of their own medical data.

Apple’s Health Records Feature

During the past several months, Apple has been releasing information about the Health Records enhancement to its Health app. The enhancement allows patients at participating U.S. hospitals and clinics to use their iPhones to access medical records from multiple providers. Patients also receive electronic notifications when their records have been updated by providers.

Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode. For maximum effectiveness, Apple is leveraging national standards for transferring electronic medical records and securing personal information.  

According to Apple, a growing list of health systems and clinics support the feature, including Geinsinger, Jefferson Health, and Penn Medicine in Pennsylvania. Patients can view their medical records on their iPhones by updating to iOS 11.3 software.

HAP supports the goal of enhancing access to data and empowering the patient, and urges better connectivity across the health care continuum from providers and insurers alike in order to improve care and engage patients. 

For additional information regarding HAP’s efforts to promote greater connectivity, please contact Mike Consuelos, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration.

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