Federal rules officially require digital health records for patients

Patients gain more power over their medical records.
stethoscope on medical records

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Well, it’s official. Now, under new federal rules, healthcare organizations must provide patients with unrestricted access to their health records in digital format

It seems like a no-brainer that patients would have access to their data, but for a long time, outdated networks and information blocking didn’t make data access the norm. While HIPAA laws do require that patients get their medical records when they ask for them, those requests are often timely, costly, and sometimes only accessible via fax (who still has one of those?!)

Now, not only will patients be able to access their data more easily, they’ll also be able to decide who they share their data with, which was not always the case. This will be unwelcome news to private data brokers who have had free rein to sell de-identified medical information to drug and insurance companies without ever needing patient consent.

Of course, standardizing and implementing the new rules will take some time but the increased transparency puts at least some power back into the hands of patients. The rule change has already prompted several data companies to pop up to help health orgs make the move to the digital format and even apps like Apple Health Records have helped patients find their digital records.

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