Giving Patients and Providers the Keys to Their Health Data

Dr. Vindell Washington | September 27, 2016

Summary: Having your health data at your fingertips can help you stay healthy.

Have you ever wanted to pull up a list of your allergies or the medications you’ve taken on your smartphone or computer? How about your lab results, or records from your recent visit to the hospital?

Having your health data at your fingertips can help you stay healthy. As a nation, we’ve made incredible progress in digitizing the health system – with nearly all hospitals and three-quarters of doctors using certified electronic health records. Now that all this electronic health information exists, we’re focused on making sure it flows more easily to you and your doctor as part of our efforts to make health care better, smarter, and healthier – what we call delivery system reform.

This week, to mark National Health IT week, we’re launching a video that explains how:


For some patients today, it’s still too difficult to access their health care data for a few reasons. Different electronic systems sometimes speak different data languages. Some hospitals and doctors are still reluctant to give patients their own information. And too often we’ve paid for health care in ways that don’t support sharing information.

We’re working to change that.

First, we’re encouraging common standards recognized by the federal government – so, for example, the electronic system your dermatologist uses can seamlessly share your information with the system your primary care physician uses.

Second, we’re spreading the word across the health care system that patients have a right to their own data.

And third, new rules and regulations as part of our work on delivery system reform will make it easier for health care data to move swiftly and securely across the health care system.

We’re working with doctors, nurses, hospitals, technology developers, states and many other organizations who have committed to help us build this new system. No matter what part of the health system you’re in, you can play a part.

If you’re a clinician, check out our easy-to-use Health IT Playbook for getting the most out of your technology, as well as the organizations in your state that provide technical assistance to improve care coordination and the exchange of health information.

If you’re a patient, you should ask for a copy of your own data, so you can manage your own health. You have a right to a copy of your health information, and you have a right to send it wherever you’d like – whether that’s to a family member or to a smartphone app.

After all, that’s how we use health data to build a health care system centered on the patient – one that provides better care, spends health care dollars in smarter ways, and helps people stay healthy. It’s how we build a health care system that works better for everyone.

Learn more about the work to give patients and providers access to their #healthdata → http://go.usa.gov/xKtgR via @HHSGov #NHITweek