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Health Information For Parents
Most U.S. hospitals, doctors’ offices, and medical centers store health information electronically, thanks to the adoption of health information technology (HIT). An electronic health record (EHR), or electronic medical record (EMR), is a digital collection of a patient’s health details.
Information stored within an EHR can include a patient’s:
(including immunization status, test results, and growth and development records)
Because it’s stored digitally, health care providers within a facility can share the information, or send it quickly to another facility if a patient sees another health provider.
Most hospitals have a unique EHR database that’s accessible from every computer. To open a patient’s health record, a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider logs into the system with a username and password or thumbprint identification.
Often, providers can access EHR information remotely by logging into their work network via the Internet.
Yes. A federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) identifies who’s allowed access to medical records. Specifically, HIPAA protects:
So don’t worry if, for example, your nosy neighbor works in the same hospital where your child gets treatment. HIPAA bars anyone from snooping into patient records. In fact, if someone tries to view classified information, it might trip an alarm in the computer system and start a trace on who tried to look at that information.
In many EHR systems, hospital employees have access only to parts of the EHR. The rest of the record is secure and private. If a user’s session is inactive for a few minutes, the system may automatically log off to prevent others from viewing the information.
Part of HIPAA called the Security Rule protects the storage and transfer of EHRs. Any provider who sends health information that way must, for example, use safeguards that make sure it is accessed only by those allowed to see it.
Yes. As with paper charts, you have the right to view your child’s medical information. Many health care facilities provide ways for patients and their families to access the system via a patient portal.
Ask if your health care provider offers this service. You’ll probably need to register and create a username and password. You can view things like your child’s medical history, family history, allergies, and prescriptions. But physician notes, test results that haven’t been reviewed, and most psychiatric evaluations are hidden. If your child is a teenager, more areas may be hidden to protect your teen’s privacy.
If your health care facility doesn’t offer access to EHRs, you can ask for a paper or digital (CD or flash drive) copy of the file. Digital copies can be stored on software known as a Personal Health Record (PHR), either on your own device or online. Some online PHRs are free. Others have setup fees and monthly maintenance costs.
With these accounts, you’re responsible for keeping the records up to date. This may take some work, but it’s a good way to make sure your child’s medical information is in one place. Patient-owned records can be a big help for parents whose kids have chronic conditions or get care from different providers.
Because EHRs improve how well your doctors talk to each other and coordinate your treatment, they can enhance your medical care. Get the facts on electronic health records.
Visit our center on managing your medical care for advice on how to get involved in taking charge of your health and choosing the right health care providers.
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Each time you hop up on a doctor’s exam table, somebody makes a note in your medical records. There may come a time when you need your medical information, so find out how to get it and how it’s protected.
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Figuring out health care is part of becoming an independent adult. Here are tips for teens on what that involves, and how to choose your own doctor.
In an emergency, health care professionals will have many questions about a patient’s medical history. It’s easy to compile this information now, and it could save critical minutes later.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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