The critical issue of patient medical record portability

At NexGenic we regularly hear stories from ImageInbox users about the barriers they’ve experienced in getting copies of their diagnostic imaging records. The stories themselves are frustrating, but hopefully articles like this recent one in the NY Times will help bring much-needed attention to the problem of patient medical record mobility.

Titled, Medical Records: Top Secret, the author Elisabeth Rosenthal describes her experience following a patient who needed to get copies of their medical records. As she states, “Hospitals are computerized, and patients have a right to their own records, so I assumed getting the chart would be easy.”

The article goes on to summarize how even as the digitization of medical records becomes commonplace, it is still difficult for patients to gain access to their medical data. Even in our connected, digital age.

Most of these difficulties revolve around concerns about patient privacy as relates to HIPAA, a law enacted to protect patient confidential medical information and provide patient assurances for medical record security. As Harvard Law School professor I. Glenn Cohen is quoted in the NYT article, “You should be able to walk into a provider’s office and say, ‘I want a copy’ – you are legally entitled to that.”

Yet it’s not that easy, as the NYT article illustrates very well. What has resulted is a burdensome, sometimes costly process requiring patients to physically go to the hospital or clinic to retrieve their records.

As the author of the NYT article describes, despite numerous contacts with phone and email over six-weeks, it finally required the patient to actually visit the hospital and wait until they were physically provided to him.

This all-to-common occurrence where patients and caretakers must take time off work to physically go the hospital to get their records is a particularly frustrating situation to patients. What’s even worst, the problem of accessibility is not limited to patients –it’s also a problem for other healthcare providers.

The barriers to healthcare provider information exchange was described in another recent NY Times article from October, titled “Doctors Find Barriers to Sharing Digital Medical Records.” This article reviewed the various experiences of different healthcare providers’ who were not able to access their patient's digital medical records from other institutions even though they were using electronic medical charting.

Medical record exchange is important to patient care because as patients migrate from hospital to hospital, clinic to clinic, and office to office, they acquire mountains of diagnostic information.

Specifically where radiology imaging is concerned, because nobody can connect the various medical imaging studies, patients are subject to unnecessary radiation, magnetization, and uncomfortable, intimidating exam environments (arguably more damaging than radiation)  – all because nobody connects the dots.

ImageInbox solves this problem once and for all by addressing both the current healthcare provider requirements for exchanging imaging results and meeting security requirements, as well as the critical issue of patient medical record portability.

We hope more providers and patients will soon realize that overcoming the current barriers described in these two recent NYT articles is only a download away with ImageInbox!