29 December 2016
#Sponsored How PatientBank Helps Patients Own Their Health Information
I have been given this product as part of a product review. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.
Obtaining my medical records wasn’t something I considered until I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance. My chronic migraine, severe chronic depression, and anxiety all made it impossible for me to work. Part of that process was to request all my medical records regarding my history of migraine, which went back to 1986 when I was diagnosed at the age of eight. I had to get almost twenty years of medical history from various doctors, hospitals, and medical offices. That was a very painstaking task and it added up in costs. There were varying rates that I was charged and if there were a lot of pages, then I had a very high bill to pay to obtain them.
Despite this, I realized how important it was to have ownership of my medical records. However, trying to find a safe, organized way to store my information and be cost effective was challenging. When Dr. Kevin Grassi reached out to me about his company, PatientBank, I was very intrigued. PatientBank takes the hassle out of obtaining your medical records. You tell them where you need them from and PatientBank requests them for you for a flat, low cost fee. Their goal is to “use technology to make health information more accessible – for patients, caregivers, and researchers.”
I knew that the service PatientBank provides can prove to be invaluable to the migraine patient community. So many of us are required to lug around our medical history to prove that our pain is real and to avoid being sent for tests or scans that we already have had done. Why not take the hassle out of filling out request forms and paying enormous fees to own our health information? I wanted to share how PatientBank can benefit our community, so I asked Kevin a few questions about how his company can help us be better advocates for our health and wellness.
Jaime: What is PatientBank?
Kevin: PatientBank is a service that helps patients gather, store, and share their medical records. Patients, especially those with a chronic illness, have started to see the importance of self-advocacy and the need for greater control over their own health. Here at PatientBank, we think that empowerment starts by giving patients ownership over their data.
Jaime: How is this service useful to the patient community?
Kevin: At its core, PatientBank has three important features that are vital for patients who want to manage their own data: medical record retrieval, secure online storage, and sharing.
Medical record retrieval
By using PatientBank, patients can request and keep their medical records from any hospital or doctor’s office in the country. Patients fill out a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliant authorization form that is sent to their hospital asking them to send the patient’s records to PatientBank. The staff at PatientBank then follows up and retrieves all the information requested. Once it is returned to PatientBank, the patient receives an email that the records are ready to view, download, and share.
Secure online storage
Once PatientBank gathers the records, they are stored securely for the patient online. If they have internet access, patients can access their records from any device, whether it be their computer, cell phone or tablet. You can think of it like Dropbox for medical records.
Most patients need to gather their medical records for a specific purpose - often to share with someone else. Patients can choose to share their records with another doctor in preparation for an upcoming appointment, their legal team for a medical case, or even for insurance or workers’ compensation claims. Using PatientBank, the patient can create a secure link to their medical records that they can then email to the appropriate person. PatientBank gives patients complete control over their medical history and they decide how to best use it.
Jaime: How important is it for patients to have ownership of their medical records?
Kevin: Patients with chronic disease know how important it is to advocate for themselves and their healthcare needs. For example, one woman we worked with explained how she carried an entire box of medical records with her to every appointment because she was tired of doctors ordering duplicate tests and providing her with misinformation about her illness. As a physician, I understand how hard it is to coordinate care across medical settings and understand when patients are mistrustful of doctors. This is a sad state of affairs for health care and one we are actively trying to change at PatientBank. When you put data in the hands of patients, they feel empowered to take control and can speak up when they don’t agree with the proposed course of action. And as for the woman above, she finally traded her box of records for a PatientBank account and she now shares her records with her healthcare providers electronically. Now, there’s no need for her to carry around that bothersome crate!
Jaime: How has PatientBank streamlined the process of requesting and obtaining medical records?
Kevin: Without using PatientBank, the process of gathering medical records can be a disaster. Every hospital has a slightly different process for completing medical record requests. PatientBank streamlines the entire process and allows patients to create a request from the comfort of their own homes. Using PatientBank, patients simply create an account and sign a HIPAA authorization electronically. The form specifies what information they would like to gather from their hospital. PatientBank staff then contacts the hospital via phone to make sure they have received the request. They will also deal with any issues that may arise. You can think of it as full service medical record retrieval available at the click of a button.
Jaime: As a chronic migraine patient, I have seen multiple doctors. Requesting my records and storing them at home has been costly and time consuming. How will PatientBank help save me time and money and allow easy access to my information?
Kevin: PatientBank was created with patients like you in mind! Ditch that box of paper for PatientBank.
The first thing you want to do is upload the records you already have to PatientBank. You spent the time and money to collect those records, make sure they are stored securely and electronically!
You can do this in two easy ways:
You can fax or mail the records to us and we will scan and upload them for you
You can scan and upload PDF copies of the records directly to your account. The records will then be stored securely in the cloud and you can access them at anytime from anywhere as long as you have internet access.
And of course, as mentioned above, you can use PatientBank to help track down additional medical records that you may not have.
Jaime: How are my medical records stored and how secure will they be?
Kevin: The medical records are stored as a PDF in your PatientBank account and since they’re also stored in the cloud, you’ll never worry about them vanishing. You’ll always have instant access.
As a medical records company, we take security and privacy very seriously. Here are the ways we protect your information:
We require every patient to verify their identity with a well-known service, https://blockscore.com/. If you ever had to answer multiple choice security questions online, it was likely this company. It is the gold standard for online ID verification. This ensures patients are who they say they are.
Our entire platform is HIPAA compliant and built on top of a service called https://www.aptible.com/. This ensures all medical records are stored in HIPAA secure servers.
Patients are in complete control of their records stored in PatientBank. They can view, download, and share any/all records in the PatientBank system. And of course, they can cancel their account and ask that we remove their records from storage at any time.
Jaime: What is the turnaround time between requesting medical records and receiving them?
Kevin: The turnaround time varies from hospital to hospital. Some are very quick and send us the records within 24 hours. Others are not so timely, taking up to 30 days - the length of time hospitals have under HIPAA laws to return the records to us.
PatientBank tracks the turnaround time for every request and this gives us insight into how fast or slow a hospital might be at fulfilling your request. We can then let you know what to expect. We also have special tools that help the hospital improve their response time. With every PatientBank request, we are seeing faster turnaround times!
Jaime: What is the biggest benefit of signing up with PatientBank?
Kevin: At PatientBank, patients are our top priority! Those who use health care frequently know how bad customer service can be. At PatientBank, we are trying to change that. We pride ourselves in providing patients with the best experience possible. We are their partner and their advocate as they navigate the thorny health care landscape. One of the biggest benefits of signing up with PatientBank is having a partner that has their best interests in mind at all times.
Beyond the obvious benefit of keeping their medical records on hand, patients may also need them if they want to get a second opinion, find themselves entangled in legal issues, or must provide proof for insurance claims. PatientBank is all about self-advocacy, giving patients the tools they need to understand and fight for the best care possible. Each and every story I hear about patients gathering their records with PatientBank and using that information to lead healthier lives means we are fulfilling our mission - to help patients everywhere take control of their own health.
Posted by Jaime Sanders