Know thy health record
ONC launches the ‘What’s in Your Health Record??’ video contest, aimed at improving patient outcomes
WASHINGTON — “Know thy health record” may seem a far cry from Socrates’ ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself,” but the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) hopes its new “What’s in Your Health Record??” video contest will bring patients some of the same good old-fashioned enlightenment.
Launched in July, the challenge aims at spurring patients’ engagement with their own personal health information. Officials hope to emphasize a patient’s legal right to access these health records – a right afforded by the HIPAA Privacy Rule – while also showing what being informed and involved with one’s health record can do to improve clinical care.
Both teams and individuals are encouraged to submit short videos sharing their anecdotes on how requesting a copy of their health record and actively examining the information improved the overall quality of their care and helped the patient better understand their own health. Six awards, totaling to $7,200, will be presented to the winners in September.
“Health information is critical to all patients so that they can track their progress through wellness programs, monitor chronic conditions, communicate with their treatment teams and adhere to their important treatment plans,” wrote Leon Rodriguez, director for the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in a statement.
Proponents of the ONC initiative are lauding the contest as an imperative step towards improving patient care outcomes.
Dave deBronkart, also known as “e-Patient Dave” is an advisory board member for the video challenge and a vehement supporter of its mission, since he’s experienced first-hand, the imperfect reality of patient health records.
If the patient were to simply take the time to request a copy of their health record and actually examine it, numerous patient record errors he has observed in his career could easily be remedied, he says.
For deBronkart, knowledge is indeed a virtue. He mentioned one personal anecdote that showed this in no uncertain terms: A while back, when he started being more curious about his own health record, he remembered asking to review one of his X-ray reports. It turned out to be a worthwhile request – as he noticed it listed him as a 53-year-old female, despite his legal name being listed on the record.
In addition to inaccurate information, data omissions are also potentially consequential. Years ago, deBronkart recounted that his wife’s health record did not list her penicillin allergy, an omission that could have caused severe health consequences.
“If the patient and family just take a look, they can quickly upgrade the information. Nobody is in a better position and nobody has more at stake,” he said.