How does the HITECH Act affect medical records retrieval?

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For decades, medical records retrieval was a long and time-consuming task that caused backlogs of work for litigators, insurers, and others. But in 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) act was ratified in an attempt to simplify and streamline the process in accordance with privacy and security controls.

HITECH sets the standards for handling electronic patient health information (PHI) to eliminate issues like lost data, inefficient case management, and errors in data entry.

Prior to its enactment, only 10% of healthcare practitioners in the United States were using electronic health records (EHRs). Today, that number is over 86% and practitioners are turning to record retrieval experts for help with adhering to HITECH regulations. These services expedite retrieval, streamline compliance, and reduce costs. It’s now possible to retrieve EHRs in an average of 12 days rather than 30 or more.

What are the benefits of HITECH?

HITECH was enacted primarily for the benefit of patients. But in addition to safeguarding privacy and giving patients more control over their personal information, compliance also offers important incentives to healthcare practitioners and their business partners.

For attorneys, HITECH makes it much easier for patients to obtain their EHRs or choose a third party to do so on their behalf. Moreover, faster access to medical records can greatly reduce the costs involved.

Like any law, it’s full of confusing legalese and long-winded subsections but it does lay down a hard rule regarding retrieval time: healthcare providers must respond to all requests for records within 30 days. Often, it takes much less, especially if you’ve properly vetted your service provider. Check out our checklist of the Top Qualities in Today’s Leading Records Retrieval Service Providers.

If you’re an attorney, you can vouch that a case’s profitability is largely due to how quickly you can gather documents and evidence from the necessary sources. The last thing you want to do when you reach the 30-day mark without your requested records is to file an official complaint; you want to find an emergency solution.

Retrieval costs: Before and after HITECH

The old way of handling medical records was costlier and more time-consuming. Attorneys would have to send requests to a medical provider along with a release. The medical provider would then print out all records, typically charging per page and also for delivery and sales tax.

Under HITECH, the process is a lot simpler and costs far less per page. Using the new method, clients sign a letter to the records provider asking for access to his or her records. An attorney then fills out the provider information and sends the request, which medical providers will typically save in a digital file or on a CD or other storage media before sending to the attorney.
Insurance providers are also much better off. For example, people often forget or neglect to include important medical information when applying for insurance coverage. By retrieving the applicant’s medical records faster and in full without unnecessary paperwork, insurers can reduce the cost of claims payments.

Finally, there’s the issue of sustainability. Having records delivered in a PDF file through a secure online portal is vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly than having them copied and printed before being sent through the mail and stored locally. In the case of our platform, records aren’t just more sustainable, but they’re also more secure thanks to our strict 256-bit AES data encryption.

In the end, HITECH-compliant medical records retrieval helps rid your firm of the non-billable hours associated with cumbersome manual processes and unnecessary red tape. Instead of spending huge amounts of time requesting medical records and tracking progress, employees can focus on more rewarding and billable work.

Record Retrieval Solutions lets you obtain medical records quickly and settle cases and claims faster. Call us today to find out how.

About The Author

img Chuck Dart
Chuck Dart started in the record retrieval business three decades ago. As the industry evolved from analog to digital, he recognized an opportunity to create a single, simple online solution that standardizes the record request and retrieval process across the entire healthcare industry.