Improving patient access to medical records

medical records

Did you know you have the legal right to request access to your medical records? Thousands of patients don’t realise that they can demand to see the information collected and stored in their file.

Providing access to patient records doesn’t just help patients themselves, it also benefits doctors. Here, we will look at why better access to records is important and how Dr Sahir is aiming to tackle current issues with the development of a new digital app.

Why improving patient access to records is important

Access to patient records is important. It helps patients become more involved in their care, and provides evidence if something were to go wrong.

Patients should be fully involved in their care. But, that can be difficult when they don’t have access to their records. Patients should know exactly what their care plan involves and what notes the healthcare practitioner has made. Otherwise, they won’t know if there are any errors or issues with their treatment.

Allowing patients access to their records also potentially helps doctors and healthcare professionals too. It provides transparency and helps to ensure patients are receiving the best level of care. Additionally, it allows patients to question care plans, and request second opinions.

If something were to go wrong, patient records can give an accurate idea of whether any errors were made. A good example of this is the recent NHS maternity scandal.

Serious failures at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust were identified after 1486 families experienced 1592 clinical incidents. These were only discovered after the families of two babies who died at the hospital sought answers into the care they received.

Medical record access comes under review

New research has been carried out to review medical record access, identifying a total of 4929 ethical studies and 3954 empirical studies. It revealed that the current method of giving information to patients verbally is insufficient.

There is a need for digital access to records, allowing patients to view their information as and when they need to. However, the latest research also showed that simply allowing access without providing a summary or explanation would also be insufficient.

The conclusion of the review was that there needs to be an agreement over the type of information that is shared. The gap in digital record sharing also needs to be addressed.

The medical record culture is already shifting internationally. In the US, the 21st Century Cures Act will be enforced in October 2022. This Act includes a strong emphasis on providing patients access to their electronic health information that is ‘easy to understand, secure and updated automatically.’

This is why, right now, Dr Sahir is working on a new app to help improve access to patient records.

New app in development to help improve access to records

To help patients gain easier access to their records, Dr Sahir is developing a new app that will bridge the gap in digital access. The goal is to empower patients and help them to understand the type of information they can access.

While the app is still in development, once launched it could help to revolutionise the way patients access and understand their medical records.