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HHS Offers Online Guide for Accessing EMRs

News  |  By John Commins  
   April 04, 2018

More Americans are accessing their personal electronic medical records, and find the data helpful and easy to use, but policymakers say half of the nation doesn’t see a need to do so. 

The federal government today released a new online guide to help patients and their caregivers access personal electronic health records.

The guide, put out by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, is designed to support the 21st Century Cures Act goal of improving patient access to electronic health information, and the MyHealthEData initiative , HHS said.

"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. "This guide will help answer some of the questions that patients may have when asking for their health information."

ONC said that in 2017, half of Americans reported they were offered access to an online medical record by a provider or insurer. This is up from 42% in 2014. More than half of people who were offered online access viewed their record with the past year. Eight in 10 people who viewed their information rated their online medical records as both easy to understand and useful for monitoring their health.

Despite those improvements, ONC said challenges remain. Almost half of Americans in 2017 who were offered access to an online medical record did not access their record, often citing a perceived lack of need as one of the reasons for not accessing their record.

ONC said the lack of use suggests that consumers are not aware of their HIPAA Privacy Rule right to access their health information, or the benefits that come with that access. 

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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