Flip No. 55

Increase Digital Health Record Engagement

Take action to encourage access to digital health records.

By Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin

According to recent data from HHS, an impressive ninety-two percent of hospitals report having a system in place to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health record within three business days of a request. Yet, the number of patients requesting a digital copy of their health record in one year, according to two-thirds of hospitals: one or none. The survey hints at a striking disconnect between what’s technically available and a patient’s understanding of access. Just 38 percent of patients with an electronic health record-enabled provider report being offered a copy by a clinician or insurer. Even when patients do know that records can be emailed, many experience complications in the requesting process.

Sharing access to health records improves transparency between a clinician and patient and gives patients a more grounded understanding in their health and health decisions over time. Everyone has had that moment after leaving an appointment or hospital stay when you realize that you can’t remember an instruction or a medication name. Without an easy way to get ahold of your health record, you’re stuck with calling the clinic for clarification. But when health records are available—and patients are aware that they can get access—patients are given the opportunity to become more informed, proactive, and engaged in everyday health, planning, and health decision-making down the road.

Changing the experience for patients—and reversing the attestation report’s bleak findings—can be accomplished by increasing awareness about a patient’s right to request their medical records and the systems already in place in hospitals and clinics to provide them.


Connecting care plans between children and their parents and their care team is a tough ask, that requires great flexibility and creativity to find a solution that matches the patient and their family.

Pilot testers at the Children's Integrated Center for Success launched Flip #55, reporting 100% success in connecting the patient with his or her records and data.

At the close of a session with the therapist or nurse practitioner, the patient, family member(s) and CICS clinician reviewed the next steps and those steps were inputted to the patient record. Before saying goodbye, the CICS clinician and the front desk liaison at checkout were tasked with making the ask, "Do you want a copy of your notes from today?" Depending on the response, the family was asked if they preferred paper or digital.

When asked, 100% of patients said yes and were provided the print out or emailed file of their preference. The patients were surprised to hear they were eligible to get their records in this way and efforts were made to answer questions that came up.

As an added bonus, this simple question opened a dialogue between patients and the clinic team about technology improvements unfolding at CICS, building buy-in with the families (and patience!) Conversations also sparked with families struggling to remember the goals and "homework" for their child once they leave CICS. The opportunity for feedback, while demonstrating innovation, offered the team at CICS rapid feedback on ideas for the practice to take on in the future - and a patient co-creators to recruit to the effort!