While the rates of consumers being given access to their online medical records is growing, many patients still do not fully grasp the value or see the need for this information. In recognition of this and as part of its compliance with the 21st Century Cures Act, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released a consumer-facing online resource for patients and caregivers called the “ONC Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records.”
The guide, which is intended to help empower consumers to make better decisions about their healthcare, is also a part of the Trump administration’s MyHealthEData Initiative led by the White House Office of American Innovation and supported by ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
“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 a release announcing the ONC’s guide. “This guide will help answer some of the questions that patients may have when asking for their health information.”
According to the results of an ONC survey looking at how many consumers have been offered access to their online records, how frequently they use that information, and their opinions about its usefulness, consumers’ answers appeared to be positive—there’s room for improvement. For example, one-quarter of individuals cited concerns related to privacy and security of online medical records as a reason for not accessing their online medical record.
To address these concerns, ONC’s guide is divided into three parts: “get it,” “check it,” and “use it.” The guide breaks down frequently asked questions about electronic health records (EHRs) and, most importantly, it walks consumers through how they can use the information to better advocate for themselves. ONC offers tips for accessing the consumers’ own portals and guidance on how to download other health-related applications, with an eye towards protecting privacy.