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Cures Act accelerates patient access to health information

May 28, 2021, 16:41 PM
The Cures Rule puts patients in charge of their health records and ultimately gives a patient ease of access to their health records electronically and immediately.
By Kevin Welk, MD
Rheumatology
Provider Lead of Ambulatory Clinical Informatics

The providers at Skagit Regional Health want to make you aware of an important part of your health care that specifically deals with your access to your electronic health record.

Back in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy law granted the patient not only the right to privacy and confidential use of your medical records, but also the right to access and request amendment of their health information upon request.

Man reads patient record electronically

However, accessing and requesting amendment of your records was mainly done through acquiring printed copies of your record which was cumbersome; and, in some cases, this could have been a significant expense for you as the patient to print out all of your records.

Now that we have electronic health records, accessing your health information is as easy as logging onto a website or a social media app.

However, accessing all of your records as quickly as a medical provider hasn’t been possible until recently. This was achieved through passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.

The Cures Act received bi-partisan support and was signed into law on December 13, 2016. The act is designed “to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st century cures, and for other purposes.”

There are 17 titles within the law addressing many issues including mental health, drug abuse, medication and device development, leadership, health care access and many others.

One aspect of this act, called the Cures Rule, specifically addresses delivery of healthcare and includes issues regarding electronic health record usage and a patient’s access to their information. It puts patients at the center of their health information record. Ultimately, the patient is in charge of their health records and the rule ultimately gives a patient ease of access to their health records electronically and that access is now immediate.

Previously, various aspects of your health record were reviewed by your provider before you could see them. That could result in a delay of many days before you could view them. Patients with a MyChart account will now have access to your information as soon as your provider.

Test results can take time to complete dependent on the type of test being done. Some results are ready on the same day (simple lab tests) while other results may take a few days to a few weeks to be seen depending on the time that is needed to perform the test (pathology / biopsies). When the result is available, we now release those results to your MyChart account immediately, instead of allowing your provider to review them and then release them. This could mean that you as the patient may see your results before your provider sees them.

Functionally, you can now choose when to see your results. You may prefer to hear from us first before viewing results rather than viewing them before your provider has had a chance to review them and notify you.

Or, you may prefer to view test results right away with friends or family members who can help explain results to you. You may also be comfortable searching the internet to answer questions to confusing or potentially serious results.

You may also choose to wait and review results with your provider in person, especially if you and your provider are concerned that the results might be troubling. Your provider will still review your results and will notify you if anything is concerning.

Ultimately, you are in charge of your health records. Your records are still protected for privacy and security. But now you have increased transparency and immediate access to your information, and you can choose how and when you want to access this information. 

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Last post : 06/07/2021

Cures Act accelerates patient access to health information

May 28, 2021, 16:41 PM
The Cures Rule puts patients in charge of their health records and ultimately gives a patient ease of access to their health records electronically and immediately.
By Kevin Welk, MD
Rheumatology
Provider Lead of Ambulatory Clinical Informatics

The providers at Skagit Regional Health want to make you aware of an important part of your health care that specifically deals with your access to your electronic health record.

Back in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy law granted the patient not only the right to privacy and confidential use of your medical records, but also the right to access and request amendment of their health information upon request.

Man reads patient record electronically

However, accessing and requesting amendment of your records was mainly done through acquiring printed copies of your record which was cumbersome; and, in some cases, this could have been a significant expense for you as the patient to print out all of your records.

Now that we have electronic health records, accessing your health information is as easy as logging onto a website or a social media app.

However, accessing all of your records as quickly as a medical provider hasn’t been possible until recently. This was achieved through passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.

The Cures Act received bi-partisan support and was signed into law on December 13, 2016. The act is designed “to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st century cures, and for other purposes.”

There are 17 titles within the law addressing many issues including mental health, drug abuse, medication and device development, leadership, health care access and many others.

One aspect of this act, called the Cures Rule, specifically addresses delivery of healthcare and includes issues regarding electronic health record usage and a patient’s access to their information. It puts patients at the center of their health information record. Ultimately, the patient is in charge of their health records and the rule ultimately gives a patient ease of access to their health records electronically and that access is now immediate.

Previously, various aspects of your health record were reviewed by your provider before you could see them. That could result in a delay of many days before you could view them. Patients with a MyChart account will now have access to your information as soon as your provider.

Test results can take time to complete dependent on the type of test being done. Some results are ready on the same day (simple lab tests) while other results may take a few days to a few weeks to be seen depending on the time that is needed to perform the test (pathology / biopsies). When the result is available, we now release those results to your MyChart account immediately, instead of allowing your provider to review them and then release them. This could mean that you as the patient may see your results before your provider sees them.

Functionally, you can now choose when to see your results. You may prefer to hear from us first before viewing results rather than viewing them before your provider has had a chance to review them and notify you.

Or, you may prefer to view test results right away with friends or family members who can help explain results to you. You may also be comfortable searching the internet to answer questions to confusing or potentially serious results.

You may also choose to wait and review results with your provider in person, especially if you and your provider are concerned that the results might be troubling. Your provider will still review your results and will notify you if anything is concerning.

Ultimately, you are in charge of your health records. Your records are still protected for privacy and security. But now you have increased transparency and immediate access to your information, and you can choose how and when you want to access this information.