My Health Counts! e-Patients

Engaging with Your Medical Records

Many people want to play a more active role in their health care. The right to see and get a copy of your medical records (called the right to access) is fundamental to your ability to participate in the health care system.

Health information is critical to all patients so that they can track their progress through wellness programs, monitor chronic conditions, communicate with their treatment teams, and adhere to their important treatment plans.

Important tools like Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Personal Health Records (PHRs) will make it easier, safer, and faster for you to get access to your health information and stay engaged. These tools help you become a true partner in your health care and wellness.

Since 1996, when Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, patients have had the right to read and even amend their own records.

All too often, consumers face barriers to getting their health information – and the first barrier is that many do not know their rights. You should know you have the right to: Ask to see and get a copy of your health records from most doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from your health plan; and Get the copy of your record in the way that you want – such as an electronic copy or a paper copy – if your plan or provider is able to do so.

And those who have attempted to exercise their rights have often found themselves mired in a parallel universe filled with administrative regulations, small-print permission forms, added costs and repeated delays. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has many resources to help you learn about engaging with your medical records on their website, HealthIT.gov.