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Charging for data: What is too much?

Patient engagement is increasing and technology is making it easier for patients to access their health information. However, many providers still charge money for copies of medical records, which may be a barrier for patient access. It is important to distinguish between patients requesting their own information and third parties requesting it. While charging third parties may be defensible, it goes against the spirit of meaningful use to charge patients. There is a lack of consistency in what patients are charged, ranging from free to hundreds of dollars. It may be necessary to reconsider policies and procedures related to patient access and find ways to increase access rather than putting up barriers. Compliance with HIPAA and HITECH is important, but the overall goal should be to facilitate patient engagement and improve health outcomes.

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