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New guide on protecting your medical privacy using personal health records
Friday, November 02, 2012
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has published a consumer guide Take Control of Your Medical Information: Personal Health Records and Your Privacy on PHRs that discusses privacy and security considerations as well as both California and federal law. The guide is part of the PRC’s series on California Medical Privacy that offers some tips for out-of-state people as well.
The guide looks at how consumers should approach their health care records in an era of Personal Health Records (PHR). For instance, how to give a new doctor a complete copy of your medical records, lab tests and a list of your prescription drugs, and understanding where this information travels in the health care system.
Since each health care provider maintains its own file on you, it can be challenging to get control of your medical records. However, HIPAA's right to access coupled with the emerging market for the Personal Health Record (PHR) is changing that.
Below are some of the highlight from the report:
- You have a right to access your medical records.
- Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal medical privacy law, you have a right to obtain copies of the medical records maintained by your health care providers. This means you can gather information from multiple sources and keep your medical history as a single record. See PRC's sample letter to request your records in writing.
- A PHR allows you to keep your own record of your medical history, and is usually an electronic system or software that provides a centralized storage space for your health information. A PHR may also support options such as secure email with your physicians and links to medical informational websites and archives.
- PHRs have the potential to help individuals become better informed about their medical history and more engaged in their own healthcare. However, as with all types of electronic records, PHRs do present certain privacy and security concerns.
- Many PHRs are not covered under HIPAA.
For a more in-depth discussion of PHRs, see California Medical Privacy Fact Sheet 7: Personal Health Records and Privacy.
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