May 27, 2016

Transferring Health Information Still Slow

Every time I write about patients obtaining copies of the lab reports for their records, I always receive two or more emails telling me to stop as this is not necessary and they can always be transferred if the patients moves and transfers doctors. Some doctors are very possessive of patient's records and others are not and almost insist on the patient having a copy.

Even some patients do not want a copy of lab reports and don't know why they should have a copy.

Therefore, I will repeat myself – always ask your doctor for a copy of all lab reports and in addition, if you have an operation, ask for a copy of all reports pertaining to the operation.

I like that Dr. Leslie Kernisan complains about patients not maintaining at least a rudimentary personal health record. Here is her explanation:
  1. Some of the problem is culture and habit.
  2. The other problem is that so far it hasn’t been easy to maintain a personal health record.
  3. What a lay person needs for the info to be easy to review might different from a clinician’s usability requirements.

Many people are aware of the idea that clinicians are the people who keep our health information and it is their responsibility to send this information to others when necessary. The problem here is that many clinicians fail in doing this.

Often other clinicians need to obtain the necessary information from other clinicians and then put it in physical records or digital records. Finally, the information needs to be easy to review.

Number 3 above does make sense for those patients that don't want copies of their medical records or lab reports. However, many clinicians would appreciate copies of lab reports because then they at least have some information about the patient until the transfer of records can take place.

Dr. Kernisan says, “I can’t help but think that by now it should be easier for people to get and keep copies of their health info. And it should likewise be easier to share or move health information, or at least allow another provider to access the data.”

In trying to obtain some records from my past, most of the records have disappeared when the doctor retired or died. Fires were the most common cause and it could never be determined if they were set or accidental. The police reports had also been lost. One doctor's records still existed and I was able to obtain a record of the diagnosis of my allergy to sulfa drugs and some sulfa derivatives, which the doctor tested. These were from October 1945. No records exist from 1952 to 1972. Some records from 1983 to 1994 no longer exist.

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