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Getting Access to Your Medical Records
Getting Access to Your Medical Records

Why it's important, how to do it, and how to get them into your Backpack.

Allison Goldman avatar
Written by Allison Goldman
Updated over a week ago

What's in your medical records?  

Each time you see a health care provider, information about your encounter is documented. Your medical records are filled with visit summaries, lab reports, X-rays, clinicians’ notes about your health, and more.

Why is having access to your medical records important?

Actively engaged patients have better outcomes. 

Visiting the doctor can be overwhelming. It’s easy to forget much of what the doctor tells you (and most people do). Having access to your medical records means you can review what was discussed during a visit, clarify anything you didn’t understand, and be better prepared for your next appointment. 

Your records could contain correctable errors.  

Medical record errors are common, and the best pair of eyes to find them are often your own. Some mistakes might be more noticeable to you than a clinician writing and reviewing countless records a day. If you identify what you think could be a clinically significant error, contact your health care provider about getting it fixed. 

Sharing information can lead to more coordinated care.

You may have noticed that health care systems don’t always communicate seamlessly with one another, especially if you see multiple doctors and specialists at different locations. Maybe you’ve experienced getting duplicate tests, or having to wait for a procedure until one hospital receives your medical records from another. Being able to share information directly can help eliminate redundancies, speed up processes, and ensure that your whole care team is on the same page.

How do I get access to my medical records? 

If you receive your care in the United States, you have the legal right to access your medical records. And most other countries likewise allow, encourage, and protect your right to access your own data. So:

Ask your doctor if they have a patient portal. 

More and more health care systems and providers across the globe are offering patients easy access to their medical records through patient portals. Patient portals are websites that allow you to view and download your health information online by logging in with a unique username and password. Many portals also include additional benefits and features like visit summaries, the ability to communicate with your doctor electronically, and appointment reminders. Ask your health care provider if they have a patient portal, and if they do, how to set up your account. 

Request a copy of your records.

If your doctor doesn’t have a patient portal or if you don’t feel comfortable using one, request a hard copy of your records. 

How can I add information from my medical records to my Backpack? 

Connect your Backpack to your patient portals.

It’s easy to keep your medical records in the same place you track your own everyday health – you can import records from all your participating patient portals automatically. Select Data Connections from the main menu to get started.  

Upload medical documents to your Backpack files. 

You can also store things like written instructions from your doctor or a visit summary by uploading them as files.

Add information from your records to your Backpack manually. 

And you can always add information from your records yourself, the same way you can add any other health details to track and share on your own. 

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