Ive spent the last few months working to get copies of Dads records sent to my family or to various doctors who are interested in his case. It took anywhere from three weeks to seven months to get any one set of records sent. At first, I thought the delays and confusion I encountered were due to privacy concerns, but each doctor had written permission from my father to release his records to me or to anyone I requested.
It seems the real issue was outsourcing of the medical records function by doctors offices and health systems. Every time there was a delay, the doctors office didnt have any way to check the status of the requests they had made. I had to call the medical records vendors to find out when they would send the records we needed. There also didnt seem to be a requirement that the records be sent promptly I cant count the number of times I heard Your request is in process.
In the case of the seven month delay, the health system where Dad was treated outsourced its records function to a medical records company, which outsourced collection of payment for copies of records to a third company.
To speed the process up, I called the third company, and was able to pay over the phone using my credit card. But that company failed to notify the medical records company that a payment had been made, so the records company refused to release the records. I hate it when they do that, said the supervisor of the Medical Information Release Unit at the health system. She finally copied the records for me and sent them out.
You might think that the problem was that this work was offshored or outsourced to companies somewhere across the world, but all of the companies I dealt with are based in the
Patients and doctors need prompt and hassle-free access to these records. I guess all of us should keep up-to-date copies of our own medical records and hand-carry them to our doctors as necessary. Id hate to think that someones treatment might be delayed because his records havent been sent.
I wonder if access to records is less of a problem in countries with nationalized health care...