The American Health Information Management Association is offering a standardized model that providers can offer to patients who want to request their health information.

The professional association for health information professionals says it created the new standardized model form in response to concerns from federal agencies and patient groups that it is difficult for patients to obtain their medical information from providers.

Recently, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued a report recommending that providers offer a more transparent patient records process, and AHIMA executives say the development of the Patient Request for Health Information form comes in response to those issues.

See also: Patient access to medical records continues to be challenging

AHIMA says the new form can be tailored to fit the needs of specific practices or hospitals, and it was crafted to help providers streamline patient health information request processes, while ensuring that those process are compliant with guidance from the Office for Civil Rights on an individual’s right to access their medical records under requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, consumers have the right to receive, inspect and review a copy of their medical records. However, according to ONC, the medical record request process can be confusing for patients to navigate, and the process is not often available electronically.

AHIMA executives say the impetus for the form came after it heard from several healthcare and patient advocacy working groups that consumers are often confused by the inconsistency of patient access forms given to them by their healthcare providers. The form and AHIMA recommendations also align with recent ONC recommendations for a streamlined and more transparent patient records request process to reduce the burden on consumers.

“Many patients may not understand their rights to access their personal health information, including that they can request to receive information in a format of their choosing, such as on a jump drive or through email. There also remains some confusion by healthcare professionals regarding their responsibility to provide patients with easy access to their records,” said Pamela Lane, AHIMA’s interim CEO. The model form is written without jargon and “provides healthcare providers with a customizable tool that both ensures their compliance and captures patient request information in a clear, simple format,” she adds.

The model form is exclusively for access to personal health information by the patient or their designated personal representative, and it assists healthcare organizations by providing a standard request form with options for how patients want to receive their records. This standardization will help streamline the patient request process to help healthcare organizations meet the 30-day timeframe for patient access required under HIPAA. The model form does not replace a third-party authorization form or address specific state laws.

Organizations are able to edit or customize the form, based on system capabilities and operational needs, AHIMA says. More information, as well as the downloadable form, can be found here.

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