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Why is it So Difficult to Get Your Own Medical Records?

The vast majority of human knowledge is now searchable and accessible via everything from a device in your pocket you can tap on to speaker in your kitchen you can talk to. Quantities of information that would have taken days or weeks to move in the past are now transferred in seconds or just a few minutes. It is difficult to quantify how far we have come in our ability to store, process, access, and move information in a very short amount of time.

In many cases, the advent of EMR, or electronic medical records systems, has followed suit. Charts have been replaced by computers or tablets and orders for everything from treatments to prescriptions are authorized with the tap of a screen or the click of a mouse. Hundreds or thousands of sheets of paper can be condensed down into a few megabytes stored in a database.

One would think that this level of sophistication would allow records retrievals to be as simple as a transfer to a thumb drive or online file storage system. At the very least, an EMR system should be searchable and the records for a given patient should be printable on demand.

As families and patients across the country have discovered, however, the reality of getting access to one’s medical records is just as – if not more ¬– difficult than ever before.

A study conducted by a team assembled by Forbes dives into why this process is so complicated at a time when access to information has been likened to a utility and a fundamental human right. The results of the study were quite telling and indicative of just how far we have to go.

The narrative of the study and the results it yielded can be read here.