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Are medical providers overcharging for copying medical records?

medical records

Posted on May 21st, 2018

Posted By TGSI

US Government Accountability Office researched1 on fees for copying medical records encountered by patients and third-party retrieval companies.

The 14 May 2018 study found that healthcare providers are charging fees that patients consider excessive. This is particularly true of patients with chronic conditions with lengthy records. The patients surveyed were generally unaware that they could challenge providers who deny access on legal grounds.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and subsequent regulations (HIPAA) requires providers to only charge reasonable costs of access when patients request records. These actual costs are generally less than fees charged to third-party providers. Third party provider fees are generally governed by state law.

While most healthcare providers do cooperate to assist their patients in legally providing access to their records many healthcare providers Telegenisys fee negotiators have called were not aware of patient rights or state guidelines as they relate to third-party copy fees.

To help our clients Telegenisys maintains a database of almost 40,000 healthcare providers with specific guidance on who to call, past history with copy fees and particular requirements and timelines for obtaining records. Telegenisys uses this data to obtain records from multiple providers and unifies them into interactive patient records for use by our medical record processing unit which produces medical summaries and performs data extraction as needed for our clients.

Fees negotiations are vital to any medical record retrieval process and can reduce third-party request cycle times while lowering costs for client users. Attorneys are increasingly using The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or HITECH Act of 2009 to lower costs for obtaining medical records. Three elements of this Act allow attorneys and patients to lower costs:

  1. Has the Right to obtain a copy of their E-Health Records (EMR/EHR)…“2Shall have the right to obtain…a copy of such information in electronic format”
  2. If the record is available in electronic form, “3any fee” that a provider may impose, “shall not be greater than the entity’s labor costs in responding to the request for the copy.”
  3. The patient has the right “to direct the covered entity to transmit such copy directly to an entity or person designated by the individual.” This includes several entities including lawyers.

Telegenisys uses HITECH to collect medical records electronically whenever possible. This lowers cost and reduces turn around times to obtain records. Telegenisys has the scalability and focus on providing accurate medical records retrieval services. Telegenisys has designed its medical records retrieval processes for zero error tolerance and delivers with reliability and precision.


1https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-386

242 USC § 17935(e)(1) the individual shall have a right to obtain from such covered entity a copy of such information in an electronic format and, if the individual chooses, to direct the covered entity to transmit such copy directly to an entity or person designated by the individual, provided that any such choice is clear, conspicuous, and specific

342 USC § 17935(e)(2) notwithstanding paragraph (c)(4) of such section, any fee that the covered entity may impose for providing such individual with a copy of such information (or a summary or explanation of such information) if such copy (or summary or explanation) is in an electronic form shall not be greater than the entity’s labor costs in responding to the request for the copy (or summary or explanation).

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