Get Your Health Data in 2016: Become a Tracer

Erin Mackay

January 4, 2016 | Health Care > Digital Health

2016. This is it: the year I get my cholesterol under control.

It’s not an easy New Year’s resolution, but it’s one I’m confident I can keep track of, in part because I have 24/7 access to my health records. That’s important because like most people, I don’t remember exactly what my cholesterol was last time my doctor checked it (only that it was high!). But since my primary care doctor has a patient portal where I can view several years of lab results, I can go back to get that information and set a goal. Not everyone is so lucky.

More patients need access to this kind of data so they can determine their baseline, set goals and measure progress. That’s why the National Partnership for Women & Families is coordinating the GetMyHealthData campaign. With our partners, we are working to make it easier for patients and families to access, use and share their electronic health information.

As part of the campaign, we’ve been asking people to volunteer to be “Tracers” by requesting their health data and reporting back to us on their experience. Some people told us they got the data they needed quickly and easily. Others navigated an obstacle course of confusing forms, puzzled providers and steep fees in their quest for health data – and in some cases, never got the data they requested. 

Feedback from Tracers is helping us identify what is and isn’t working for patients across the country so we can better advocate on their behalf and develop resources that help everyone — patients, providers and policymakers — overcome barriers.

This month, we’ll be sharing some of the experiences Tracers reported in 2015, along with some tips to help you become a Tracer this year by:

  1. Asking your doctors for copies of your medical records or other health data. Check out the tips and resources on the GetMyHealthData website.
  2. Telling us what happens. Visit https://getmyhealthdata.org/share-your-experience/ to share your story about what happened when you requested your health data.

Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to get your blood pressure under control, get that weird mole checked out or just visit your doctor more regularly. Easy, electronic access to your health data can help you achieve many health goals.

We hope you will join us in this movement to ease the path to data access for all. Visit this Blog again next week to read two stories from 2015 Tracers.

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