via Wall Street Journal
It’s your health. So it’s time you took control of all the information about it. That’s the message that a growing number of patient advocates are trying to spread to American health-care consumers.
For most people, of course, it’s all too easy to simply leave their health records in the hands of doctors and hospitals. But that’s a big mistake, the advocates argue. First, it gives doctors too much power over information that is vital to patients, and it creates opportunities for errors. Perhaps more important, it keeps patients from using the information themselves for their own benefit.
“For consumers to start requesting and using their health information will be a game-changer for the health-care system,” says Christine Bechtel, a consultant for the National Partnership for Women and Families who spearheads the Get My Health Data campaign to get patients to ask doctors for their records. “Once we unlock the data, there’s an enormous amount we can do with it.”
Indeed, taking charge of your own records helps circumvent “data lock”—where one doctor’s records system can’t talk with another’s, or when hospitals make a stink about transferring files to competing providers. By obtaining their records, you can serve as your own data hub and give out information when you are consulting specialists, seeking second opinions or shopping for less expensive care..