I have been given access to PatientBank.us as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.
What is PatientBank? Here is a quick overview from their FAQ: 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.
Why I want to get these records: Over 10 years ago when I was first developing symptoms of what I know now is Hypothyroidism, I did a lot of research into what my symptoms could be and how to get help. The most prevalent piece of advice was to request copies of all your labs and, if possible, your medical records. When you have that information, you can see what is really going on with your health, and also read what is written about you by your healthcare provider. Sometimes you may disagree or not like what is written, but the most important thing about seeing these records with your own eyes is to start building the chronology of your illness and your treatment.
On 1/2/17, I created an account on http://www.patientbank.us and requested records from 5 different facilities. I ordered from current providers and also from providers I haven’t seen in over 10 years. PatientBank did give me the disclaimer that they may not be able to retrieve records older than 10 years as many facilities have a record retention policy to destroy records after a certain time frame. HIPAA requires most offices to retain records at least 6 years after the date it was last in effect, while some states have longer retention periods. For example: You saw Dr. Smith for several years, but in 2005 you moved out of state and never saw Dr. Smith for treatment after that, it’s likely that your records would no longer be available after 2011.
The sign up was very easy, and I was impressed at the database when I was searching for my providers. I requested records from Michigan providers where I grew up, and from Tucson providers and almost everyone was listed. Even a doctor I know has retired within the last 10 years was still listed for me to request records. There is an option to search for a clinic name, however the medical practices I receive care from were not listed so I had to add each provider separately. I see the Nurse Practitioner at a practice, I have also seen the main doctor on occasion. I had submit one request for each.
As I was completing my requests, I had a frainbog moment and didn’t realize I could compile all of my requests under one electronic signature. I had already done the e-sig 3 times before I “saw” the “add another provider” button. Oops. Do yourself a favor and look for that. It’ll save you from having to draw out an awkward signature with a mouse.
When I completed my request, I was given a pop-up notice that I would receive an email when any of the records I requested are received. And then I waited… but not very long.
PaientBank did an excellent job of keeping me updated on the status of my record requests. I received an email each time the request was sent to the medical provider, and follow up emails ensuring me they were still working on my request. When a request was completed, I received an email stating that the request was successfully completed and the email contained a link to access the records.
Accessing the records on PatientBank is very easy – the web site is very clean looking and easy to navigate. While PatientBank offers a secure server to house your medical records, you also have the option to download the documents, and to set up a secure link to share the documents with your doctor, spouse, or whomever you choose. The “Share” option gives you the choice to copy a secure link that’s created for the record and you can paste it to an email, or you can add an email address, a fax number, or search for your doctor’s name to have PatientBank send it on your behalf.
When you receive the email with the status update, you can reply directly to it if you have a question, which I did. One of my requests seemed to be taking a while, and since I knew my doctor had recently changed her name and the practice name had also changed, I responded to the email and shared that information. I received a response from Emma in Patient Support within 2 days thanking me for the information and ensuring me they would continue working with the provider. It was nice to know there was an actual person working on my behalf.
I was also shocked when I got an email informing me that one of the providers sent a bill for the medical record request. I understand some facilities charge for copying the records, especially if the file is particularly large, I was pleasantly surprised that it was taken care of. The email stated: “We don’t think patients should have to pay extra for their medical records, so PatientBank covered the bill for you!”
Overall I am very pleased with my experience with PatientBank. They have streamlined the process for requesting records from multiple facilities and providers and created a secure environment to store and share those records as needed.
Stephanie R.F. Hanley
Wife of Norman.