Most Americans want their health data to be more accessible and better protected—and the benefits of making medical records readily accessible are clear. With easy access to their medical records, patients are equipped and empowered to make better, more informed decisions regarding their healthcare.
Fortunately, patient access to medical records is on the rise, with the increasing use of portals and application programming interfaces (API) integrations putting more data directly in consumers’ hands. Let’s dive into the current state of patient access to medical records and why it matters today.
Trends Impacting Patient Access to Medical Records
Modern healthcare consumers demand transparency and autonomy; they want to be more actively engaged and involved in their own medical care. Amid the rise of healthcare consumerism and evolving expectations, we have seen an increase in laws and regulations related to patient access, such as the:
- CMS Interoperability Rule: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced new interoperability mandates in the summer of 2021. The new CMS interoperability rule aims to break down barriers that prevent access to personal health records, mandating that every patient has access to their health data electronically.
- Meaningful Use Program: The Meaningful Use program was established to encourage providers to demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Promoting the widespread adoption of EHRs helps with ensuring patient access to medical records, increasing engagement, and encouraging patients to take an active role in their healthcare.
- ONC Cures Act: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released the ONC or “21st Century” Cures Act to support the seamless and secure access, exchange, and use of electronic health information. Encouraging the healthcare industry to adopt certified APIs will allow individuals to securely access their medical records.
These are just a few examples of new trends and legislation around patient access to medical records. Because it’s such a hot topic in healthcare today, we’ll likely continue to see more newly emerging efforts centered around patient access to health information—and healthcare organizations will have to get on board and up to speed to compete effectively and ensure compliance.
Why Does Patient Access to Medical Records Matter?
Key benefits to giving patients access to medical records are threefold: increased engagement, improved adherence, and an enhanced patient experience overall.
Increased Patient Engagement
Quite simply, without easy and secure access to their medical records, patients cannot be fully engaged in their care. On the flip side, with better access to health information, patients are more engaged, proactive about their medical care, and more dialed in when it comes to what’s going on with their health.
Additionally, engaged patients are more likely to collaborate with healthcare providers and share decision-making, strengthening the patient-provider relationship and increasing the likelihood of positive health outcomes.
Improved Treatment Adherence
If you’re wondering why patient access to medical records matters, it’s clear from patient behaviors. Proactive, engaged patients are more likely to adhere to treatment plans and take their medications as prescribed.
Higher-risk patient populations, such as patients with multiple chronic conditions, are also more likely to report greater medication adherence when they have access to EHR clinical notes.
Enhanced Patient Experience
In addition to increasing engagement and improving adherence, patient access to medical records also provides greater transparency and a more patient-centric care experience. This allows modern healthcare consumers to manage their healthcare the same way they manage other aspects of their lives: with convenience and flexibility.
Plus, healthcare practices can ultimately attract and retain more patients by offering a better digital experience—meaning it’s beneficial across the board.
How to Improve Patient Access to Medical Records
Healthcare providers and practices can improve patients’ access to their health information by offering a patient portal that integrates with their EHR. With access to a portal, patients can view their full medical records at their own convenience, including any clinician notes, lab results, and medications prescribed.
This also opens the door to provide other popular features consumers want, such as self-scheduling, online refill requests, two-way messaging, and more—or exactly what you need to offer an unmatched patient experience.
Looking for more ways to provide a modern, patient-centric care experience? Download our free guide, The Rise of Healthcare Consumerism and What it Means for Your Practice, to learn more about the ever-evolving needs of healthcare consumers and patients.