Have you had the experience of trying to find lab test results, trying to find out if they’ve arrived at the doctor’s office yet, waiting for the doctor to be available to tell you?
Sometimes you never hear the results thinking no news is good news. Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case. A 2009 study of medical practices found a significant degree of lack of follow-up on test results or documentation. It’s scary to think what you may not know. It also doesn’t give ou the tools you need to take action for your own health care.
That could change with a proposed rule change at the Department of Health and Human Services. They want to allow labs to lease test results to patients that request them. The Agency believes that if a patient knows their lab results, they’re more likely to ask the right questions and to receive better care. For some chronic conditions requiring routine tests such as diabetes, kidney disease or need for blood thinners, quick information would help better manage conditions. You could quickly make necessary adjustments or advocate for attention.
Some states currently allow direct access to the patient but most don’t. The rules vary and usually patients aren’t aware of them. In some states permission to access results could often be authorized at the time test is authorized by the doctor, although you’re unlikely to be told that.
Currently these states allow at least some patient access lab results; Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, West Virginia, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Contact your lab to ask for your options.
A new free mobile app, Gazelle, was introduced in October 2010 by Quest Diagnostics, the lab company that does testing for about half of the U.S.doctors and hospitals. About 100,000 users in the authorized states can choose to access information such as medical history and prescription drug lists using it. Quest uses a system of personal identification and authorization to provide lab tests with a 48 hour wait for those states. Jon R. Cohen, Quest Chief Medical Officer says ” the real question is who owns the data, and we believe the patient does.” If the rules change, Gazelle will be available everywhere.
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