What We're Reading: Improving Patient Access to Medical Records

What we're reading, January 19, 2016: the Obama administration is looking to make it easier for patients to access their medical records; a clinical trial has left 1 brain dead and 4 hospitalized; and hospitals are experimenting with mobile technologies to track patient health at home.

New guidelines from the Obama administration would make it easier for patients to gain access to their own medical records. The New York Times reported that under the new guidelines, doctors and hospitals will no longer be able to require patients state a reason for requesting their records and cannot deny access to medical records because of concern a patient might be upset by the information enclosed. In addition, while they can charge a fee to cover the cost of copying, doctors and hospitals cannot charge patients the cost of searching for and retrieving data.

A clinical trial for a new drug from Portuguese pharmaceutical company Bial has led to the hospitalization of 5 participants. The drug, which was aimed at treating anxiety or problems linked to degenerative diseases, left one man brain dead, while the other 4 suffered neurological disorders, reported The Wall Street Journal. Investigators will examine if there were missteps in how the drug was developed.

A growing number of hospitals are using mobile technologies to track patients’ health when they are at home. According to STAT, hospitals are looking to use the data being tracked by smartphones: step counts, diets, sleep patterns, etc. However, critics warn that while this technology could reduce doctor’s visits, it shouldn’t replace them.