Our Executive Director, Jennifer Marshall, recently had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Kevin Grassi, the Chief Medical Officer of PatientBank, on the importance of accessing and storing personal medical records. PatientBank is simplifying healthcare, one medical record at a time, and their mission is to use technology to make health information more accessible - for patients, care providers and researchers.
We are excited about their service and were thrilled to learn more. Read on to hear all about why it's important to gain access to your own records and how you can try out PatientBank for yourself with a free code for our community.
JM: Why is it important for patients to have access to their medical records?
Dr. Grassi: There are many reasons patients might want or need access to their medical records. Some of the reasons people come to PatientBank to request their medical records include: insurance reasons, workers comp, legal reasons, and for second opinions—to bring their records to a new doctor. Beyond these specific reasons, owning their own medical records allows patients to be stewards of their own information; they can make sure the data is correct, better understand diagnoses and treatment decisions, and make sure their information is never lost. It’s a little-known fact that doctor’s offices and hospitals are only required to store a patient’s records for 7 to 10 years; the only way to ensure your important medical information remains available is to gather and store it yourself.
JM: Can Patient Bank help a patient recover medical records from any year? Or is there a cutoff period for which Patient Bank is unable to recover records?
Dr. Grassi: Unfortunately, PatientBank can only gather records that are still being stored at your doctor’s office or hospital. At many hospitals, medical records are destroyed after ten years. If the records have been destroyed or misplaced at these institutions, we will not be able to get access to them. This is the main reason we encourage all patients to gather all of their own information as they use the health care system. Request a copy of your visit notes after every doctor’s appointment!
JM: How does Patient Bank ensure that all patient records are kept safe and private?
Dr. Grassi: PatientBank is fully HIPAA compliant. Our platform is built on top of a service called Aptible, which ensures HIPAA compliance at all times. Once a patient’s data is stored in the PatientBank system, it becomes one hundred percent controlled by the patient—this is another way PatientBank differs from the electronic medical records system your doctor uses. If you would like to share your data with another doctor, you can do that with PatientBank. If you would like to delete all your records from PatientBank, you can do that too! Your records are entirely under your control.
JM: Do you have any advice for patients as they review their medical records? Could reading doctor’s notes or assessment of the patient’s condition cause trauma or stress in revisiting a difficult time?
Dr. Grassi: Reviewing historical medical records can cause memories of painful or stressful times to resurface, especially if the records are related to a mental health admission or difficult treatment regimens such as chemotherapy. Patients should revisit their records with this in mind. At the same time, it can be difficult to absorb the information and advice you are given at the time of a difficult diagnosis. Reviewing your records later, after you have had some time to process, can be revealing.
JM: Do doctors know about Patient Bank? Will they be able to review my medical history when I give them access to my Patient Bank account? How does it work?
Dr. Grassi: Yes, you can share your records with your doctor using PatientBank. As of the fall of 2016 we are still working on developing a way to summarize all your medical information in a single page. As a physician, it can be very time-consuming to review all of a patient’s records. Giving physicians access to a concise PatientBank summary will be helpful for many people.
JM: Will my medical records be accessible to me indefinitely once I sign up with Patient Bank?
Dr. Grassi: Yes, you will have access to your records indefinitely once they are stored on PatientBank. You can log in at any time to view, download, and share your records. With PatientBank, you are always in control of all of your health information.
PatientBank has generously offered a free trial code to our community, so if you would like to obtain one of your medical records, visit PatientBank and create an account, then use code thisismybrave to request one record free.
Thank you, PatientBank and Dr. Grassi!