A Rosa Parks for EMRs

From the Healthcare blog, this week there’s a super interesting post on Regina Holliday, a widow turned patient rights advocate.

First some background about Holliday: She’s a widow with young kids, her husband Fred died after weeks of suffering from from cancer. She is now taking her patients’ rights advocacy before the American Heart Association by protesting the lag in how soon patients can see their medical records. Holliday’s personal experiences inform her protest.

From the post:

When [Hollidays] sought access to [Fred’s] electronic medical record, the hospital responded by saying “we must wait 21 days and pay 73 cents per page to see the story of his care. Then they told us we could go home to die.”

Per Meaningful Use Stage 1 guidelines, patient records must be made available within 4 days. Holliday is asking for access within 24 hours. American Hospital Association (AHA) in all its wisdom is asking for 30 day lag.

The one issue I don’t see addressed either by Holliday nor by Michael Millenson in his post is the question of cost. Who will bear the cost of making records available immediately? Will it roll downhill to the patient, or become a shared cost between patient and provider? Still I hope Holliday succeeds, it is a radical idea worth pondering over.

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Priya Ramachandran

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

2 Comments

  • Not sure why this delay in releasing the records; and I am not too aware of the Hospital Work Flow to comment on it. But 30 days seems to be too long a delay. Although the Patient Records can be made available real-time, I understand, hospitals might want to go through one more level of review prior to releasing the documents to be viewed by patient/patient care givers. That should not take 30 days.
    Having said that, why can’t the patient treatments be transparent? I might sound too naive; but why can’t they be made available real-time? Is it not possible to address the root cause?

    Good post Priya

  • Anthony,
    Remember that most hospitals still have lots of paper charts and multiple systems to review. The multiple systems still could be very quick. The paper charts sometimes take time to find and scan. Plus, you have to look to see if they have a paper chart or not since you don’t know who is fully electronic usually. Even with this said, 30 days seems too long.

    I wonder how a couple more HIM staff pulling charts would add to our medical bills. Maybe $1 per patient?

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