Epic says it absolutely supports patient access to medical records despite reports of tense chat with Biden

The EHR vendor said the issue was related to how it could translate a patient’s EHR information in a way that is easy to understand.
By Bernie Monegain
11:44 AM
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EHR vendor Epic Systems came under the gun again this week over data sharing and access. 

Generally, the criticism is that Epic claims its electronic health record system is interoperable while most of the health data exchange takes place among other hospitals also using Epic, rather than rival EHRs. 

But now it’s about patients’ right to access their entire medical record. Politico reported on Wednesday that “Epic CEO Judy Faulkner asked Biden during an (until now) private meeting between EHR executives and administration officials, 'Why do you want your medical records? They’re a thousand pages of which you understand 10.’ Biden responded, ‘None of your business. If I need to, I’ll find someone to explain them to me and, by the way, I will understand a lot more than you think I do.' ” 

In a response seeking comment, an Epic spokesperson said: “Epic supports patients’ rights to access their entire record, something they have been able to do for decades. Vice President Joe Biden was consistently polite and positive to every person, including every vendor, in the meeting.” 

The Epic spokesperson added that in the January meeting Faulkner raised an issue regarding the 21st Century Cures Act that would potentially require a patient’s EHR information be transmitted in a way that was easy to understand.

Faulkner said that a requirement to translate EHR medical terminology into patient-friendly language could be a barrier to getting the medical record out to patients.

“That’s actionable,” Biden agreed, and requested that one of his staff get the requirement fixed, the Epic spokesperson said. 

The report, not surprisingly, sparked debate on the internet about patients rights to access their own health data versus the reality that many health records contain language that most patients would find difficult to understand. 

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com


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