Fast, no-cost access
The rule also aims to make it easier for patients to get access to their own health care information quickly – within 15 days of a request – instead of the 30 days currently allowed, and sometimes at no cost.
The 30-day time frame is “a relic of a pre-Internet age that should be dispensed with,” said Mr. Severino.
Patients can also request that a treating physician get his or her records from a clinician who had previously treated the individual. The request would be fulfilled within 15 days, although extensions might be possible.
“That takes away the burden of coordination from the patient and puts it on those parties that are responsible for the actual provision of care and that are better positioned to do that coordination,” Mr. Severino said.
Health care professionals will also have to share with patients a fee schedule for records requests. However, if records are shared through a patient portal with view, download, and transmit capabilities, the provider can’t charge the patient for the time it took to upload the information into the system.
“We do not believe a patient’s personal medical record should be profit centers for providers,” Mr. Severino said.
Patients will be allowed to take photos with a smartphone of personal health information – such as an x-ray or sonogram – while receiving care.
The rule is open for public comment until mid-February. After that, it will become final in 180 days. The agency said it would not begin enforcement until 240 days after the final rule was published.
A version of this article originally appeared on.