When I first moved to Washington D.C. after completing graduate studies, I remember packing up my car for the drive from Boston and squeezing in my file box of paper documents that I’ve acquired over the years. Past bills and records from the dentist, campus medical center, and other practitioners were lumped together in a folder I creatively entitled “Medical Stuff.” Many of these documents were not written in patient friendly language and several were missing pages or had been crumpled to the point of being unreadable
When I needed to consolidate my belongings, I was introduced to the world of online document storage and began scanning in my paper medical records which was a lengthy process. The next time I went to see my primary care provider (PCP) I pulled up a file that could tell her the date of my last Tetanus vaccination. Fast forward 10 years later when I needed a booster, my PCP was now able to save the administration date directly in my own personal electronic health record. I can also access my full immunization record, medication history, past and future appointments, among other useful resources all from an app on my phone.
Is the system perfect? Far from it. I still cannot access information from providers outside of my PCP’s network such as my dentist, dermatologist, and pharmacy and it would be ideal if I could request my medical records from a previous provider in a different state or different system and have them sent directly to my EHR as quickly as possible, among other convenient capabilities. Looking back, I see how far things have come from the days when I carried around my file folder and while it will take some time, I have confidence that interoperability of health information technology is in sight and attainable.
#IHeartHIT because it allows me to conveniently access my medical records when I need them.
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