February 05, 2014

Why Giving Every Patient Access to Lab Results is the Biggest Thing that Happened This Week

This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a pretty significant directive that has not received the attention it really deserves. The new federal rule mandates that clinical laboratories must give patients access to their own lab-test results (without having to go through the physician who ordered the tests.) It is part of an ongoing push to make sure that patients are empowered with information.

For too long, patients have been left on the sidelines during many of the most critical parts of their care. They are often left wondering if the correct course of action is being taken, and if they can speak up to request more information. It ultimately forces individuals and families to leave the most important decisions concerning their lives in the hands of a system that is severely overburdened at best.  Now, by giving everyone access to their own test results, we are beginning to educate and empower patients to be their own best advocates. So much of the guessing game – and hoping that someone else is paying careful attention to my case – is replaced by the power that comes with knowledge.

bloodtest

In a health care universe where published studies are reporting that 15 to 28% of all medical cases are misdiagnosed, actively involved patients armed with vital information can be our best defense. This involves training patients to ask more questions, know their family medical history, seek an expert second opinion, and have pathologies retested. Best Doctors has been advocating this approach for years. Every member who initiates a case for an expert review receives a flash drive holding virtually every piece of vital medical information about that person in one easy to access place. It’s simple really: no one can advocate for your health as strongly as you and your loved ones can. But without the relevant information, that becomes almost impossible.

We only have one life and empowering patients to have more control may mean the difference between living that life and not. We each have the power to prevent a misdiagnosis or unnecessary suffering by asking questions, insisting on answers, and making sure that we and our loved ones get the right care. Getting the diagnosis and treatment plan right should be at the heart of every medical decision, and patients need to play a greater role in those decisions. Granting access to test results is a very first, but significant, step in the right direction.

This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a pretty significant directive that has not received the attention it really deserves. The new federal rule mandates that clinical laboratories must give patients access to their own lab-test results (without having to go through the physician who ordered the tests.) It is part of an ongoing push to make sure that patients are empowered with information.

For too long, patients have been left on the sidelines during many of the most critical parts of their care. They are often left wondering if the correct course of action is being taken, and if they can speak up to request more information. It ultimately forces individuals and families to leave the most important decisions concerning their lives in the hands of a system that is severely overburdened at best.  Now, by giving everyone access to their own test results, we are beginning to educate and empower patients to be their own best advocates. So much of the guessing game – and hoping that someone else is paying careful attention to my case – is replaced by the power that comes with knowledge.

bloodtest

In a health care universe where published studies are reporting that 15 to 28% of all medical cases are misdiagnosed, actively involved patients armed with vital information can be our best defense. This involves training patients to ask more questions, know their family medical history, seek an expert second opinion, and have pathologies retested. Best Doctors has been advocating this approach for years. Every member who initiates a case for an expert review receives a flash drive holding virtually every piece of vital medical information about that person in one easy to access place. It’s simple really: no one can advocate for your health as strongly as you and your loved ones can. But without the relevant information, that becomes almost impossible.

We only have one life and empowering patients to have more control may mean the difference between living that life and not. We each have the power to prevent a misdiagnosis or unnecessary suffering by asking questions, insisting on answers, and making sure that we and our loved ones get the right care. Getting the diagnosis and treatment plan right should be at the heart of every medical decision, and patients need to play a greater role in those decisions. Granting access to test results is a very first, but significant, step in the right direction.