Are All Medical Records Linked?

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A patient’s medical records are crucial to their diagnosis and treatment, and keeping this information available and transparent between doctors and hospitals is an essential component of proper modern healthcare. This is why doctors and hospitals link and share medical records, allowing for easier access and more effective treatments. 

So are all medical records that a patient has linked? Ideally, yes; more and more hospitals and health systems have been working towards expanding providers’ ability to receive, distribute, and share various patient records and information across various medical care sources. This includes both their own health systems and unaffiliated patient care settings and hospitals. However, universal sharing still hasn’t been achieved because of certain barriers such as lack of electronic resources and interoperability.

What Medical Records Are Linked?

Any medical records that a patient’s various health providers will need to know are linked and shared between hospitals and clinics that use compatible systems. A patient’s linked medical records should contain information on your personal health, medical history, and health background. 

This will include history of diagnoses, medical histories, allergies, immunization dates, and any notes on your health data. Prescribed medications, billing records, and test results can also be included.

Who Has a Right of Access To Your Medical Records?

Some patients may be unsure with the idea of linked medical records, and may wonder who actually can access your patient data. There are certain entities and individuals with rights to medical record access; these are known as covered entities by HIPAA, meaning that they can access patient medical records under certain guidelines

Covered entities generally include medical healthcare professionals, doctors, facilities, technology providers, payers like health insurance and Medicare, and the government. Covered entity groups have strict rules surrounding their access to EHR system medical records. These guidelines include:

  • You can legally access your medical records
  • A caregiver or loved one can access your records with your permission
  • Your health care providers can see and share your records with anyone who has your permission
  • Your payers can access your medical records if they need to review your records
  • The federal and state government can access your records with a subpoena
  • Prescription databases have records on your history of prescription drug purchases

Why Are Medical Records Linked? How Are Medical Records Usually Shared?

Medical records are typically shared electronically between all healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals, healthcare organisation systems, pharmacies, laboratories, clinics, medical imaging facilities, and any other health care provider who might benefit from seeing patient records. This saves patients the time and cost of possibly taking tests they’ve already taken, and saves doctors the time of waiting for results by seeing information already available. 

By giving medical professionals greater access and accessibility to patients’ digital medical records, they can better update your information, check and coordinate your history for known conditions and allergies, and generally ensure they make the best choice for your diagnosis and treatment. 

Digitizing and linking medical records was a great step forward for the healthcare provider community. Medical records used to be kept on paper charts, meaning sharing records between hospitals and primary care doctors was difficult and costly. By transferring medical records to digital electronic systems, providers could now give patients more reliable prescribing and treatments, as doctors could better and more safely coordinate with each other.

There is also the practical advantage of keeping important records on digital files rather than paper charts, as paper charts are susceptible to damage from weather, fires, and other possible issues, while digital files are safe as long as they’re stored properly. 

Sharing of Records Inside and Outside a Patient’s Health System

Seen from behind woman at home in sunny day using a cell phone and checking electronic health record on a laptop

In 2017, 76% of hospitals and health systems reported successful electronic sharing of medical records with other hospitals or health systems in their same system, and 74% reporting the ability to do it with hospitals outside their system. This is up from just 30% EHR implementation in 2012, meaning significant improvements have been made in the last few years towards efficient personal health record sharing. 

As expected, larger hospitals have a greater ability to share electronic health record data with other health providers, with 91% of large hospitals reporting sharing capabilities. Small hospitals report greater difficulty achieving this, with just 59% of smaller health systems and hospitals reporting medical patient record sharing with outside providers. Large hospitals have a greater capacity for information integration, with more staff and resources to implement these newer systems.

While the increase over the last few years is a positive, it still isn’t universal, making it difficult for millions of patients across the country to properly access and share their electronic medical record data with different doctors and hospitals. 

Barriers Preventing Hospitals and Health Systems from Sharing and Receiving Patient Information

There are certain barriers still standing in the way for hospitals and health systems to achieve complete universal electronic record sharing. Some of these barriers include:

  • Untimely exchanges between hospitals and health systems
  • Significant differences in information formatting, making it difficult if not impossible for two providers to work with each other
  • Technical issues involved in the health information exchange transaction
  • Problems regarding the EHR itself

There is also the issue of providers simply not using the information electronically forwarded to them from outside sources, with one study finding that 33% of health provider respondents saying they rarely or never used this information. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • The information would be sent late by the other hospital or clinician, long after it was needed during the patient to physician appointments
  • The way the information was formatted or presented wasn’t aligned with their internal system, making it difficult to integrate the information into their own administrative data
  • The existing processes in their healthcare organization or hospital made the process of checking sent medical records strenuous, pushing them away from using the health information technology systems even if it would improve patient care and patient safety

How Calysta EMR Makes Sharing Easy

With so many difficulties still surrounding certain digital medical record systems and existing EHR vendors, Calysta EMR is here to help medical aesthetics clinics manage their patients’ medical information. Calysta EMR offers aesthetics clinics the aesthetic focus they need to truly get the most out of their EMR system. Some of the additional health app benefits of Calysta EMR include:

  • Premade Aesthetic Note Templates: Customer templates for various aesthetic procedures, saving time for documentation
  • Zoom Teleconferencing: Zoom is integrated into the platform to allow for split screen calls with note taking
  • Medical Practice Scheduling: Book patients with various providers and coordinate schedules across providers
  • Automatic Backups: Daily backed up medical data to keep source data secure
  • Digital Consents: Digitally create, sign, and store consent forms within the platform
  • Text Messaging with Patients: Communicate effectively with patients through texting through the EMR
  • HIPAA Compliance: Our EMR is built on HIPAA compliant servers, making EHR data safe and secure

Equip your aesthetic clinic with Calysta EMR, the best aesthetic-focused EMR available, with all the tools and features to truly be the all-in-one platform to work with your patients and other providers.

Learn more: What Does an Electronic Medical Record Include?

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