BOSTON — Regardless if you go to the doctor “every year” like James from Norwood or “just when I need to” like Linda from Walpole, from here on out, it’s going to be much easier to access your medical records.
When you’re sitting in that doctor’s chair and you see them typing away furiously, you won’t have to wonder what exactly are they typing over there anymore. Starting Monday, doctors will have to share what they’re typing.
“Right now I can look at my stuff,” said Linda. “Not everything, but I can see, you know.”
Now it’s everything. Because of the 21st Century Cures Act, there can no longer be long wait times or fees, and your records will be available electronically.
The law was supposed to go into effect last fall, but COVID-19 delayed the programming work needed to get it ready.
Newton-Wellesley Dr. Michael Misialek says there may be some things difficult for the patient to understand, but they can always contact their doctor.
“There are potential few downsides because records and results are immediately available to patients,” said Misialek. There is a possibility that a patient could see their notes or results of lab tests and pathology reports before their doctor sees them and prepares the patient for those results. I’m very optimistic that this is going to work well towards the goal of improving patient safety by making more transparent a patient’s medical records, the results of tests, and really bring the patient into the discussion with their doctor to engage them. They should be an advocate for their health care.”
“I can get my test results,” said Rob Barron of Norwood. “I never got to see them before, so this way my test results, I could look at or see when my next appointment is or what the doctor’s notes were. I’m actually kind of in favor of it as long as it’s only my access for me. It’s like any other account you have in the world you get access to it, you have your own password, so I’m in favor at this point.”
But not everyone is a fan. Some fear it could affect care, or increase a doctor’s workload or provide room for hackers.
“If I see mine someone else could hack into it and that could ruin it,” said James.
Doctors say the same rules of HIPAA still apply, plus patients can use 2-factor authentication the same security protocol used on travel and banking apps.
Misialek says the only other people to view your records will be if you have a proxy and your parents if you’re under 18.
There are a few exceptions to what’s posted including records separated from medical records such as notes in a group therapy session. Other exceptions include info that a doctor believes would cause harm to a patient or the hospital’s security.
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