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New bill calls for patient access to health care records from clearinghouses

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 02, 2018
Health IT
A new bill proposes allowing medical
record clearinghouses to provide patients
with access to their health records
A new bipartisan bill is calling on Congress to grant medical record clearinghouses the ability to provide patients with access to their health care records.

U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced this month the “Ensuring Patient Access to Healthcare Records Act”, which would enable patients to retrieve and analyze claims data more easily, to make quicker and better informed, health care decisions.

“Even in the age of technology, it can be difficult for patients to obtain their comprehensive health records. Whether it’s because of a move to a new state, switching providers, an unexpected visit to the emergency room, or a new doctor, patients must track down their own records from numerous different sources based on what they can or cannot remember,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement. “It shouldn’t be this burdensome. Our bill gives patients the ability to see a snapshot of their health records at just a simple request, allowing them to make better, more informed health care decisions in a timely manner.”

Clearinghouses process hundreds of millions of record transactions from more than 5,000 hospitals, 900,000 doctors, 66,000 pharmacies and 20,000 labs. These records contain information on the provider, diagnosis and treatment for each case of care.

Though they possess the capability to link data and build longitudinal health records for patients, they are prohibited from doing so under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

A recent bill introduced to Congress in October called for a similar measure involving mammography reports, asking that patients be informed as to whether they have dense breast tissue so they could then opt to seek additional screening options.

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers did not return calls for comment.

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