Anyone who has ever had a complex medical condition or has cared for someone who does knows how critical – and how frustrating – gathering medical records can be.
One way to make things easier for yourself and for your family members is to get a digitized copy of your medical records.
It’s not just people with high medical needs who can benefit from having easily accessible copies of medical records.
Having that information stored digitally can be valuable in a number of situations: if you see a specialist who needs to see your records in order to determine the best course of treatment; if you are buying life insurance; if you are disputing a health insurance claim; if you are switching providers or seeing providers in another state; or simply to have in order to review yourself or on behalf of someone for whom you are a caretaker.
It’s especially important to have a copy of your medical records when you have a procedure like surgery or other
specialized care, because your primary care doctor and any future doctor won’t have access to those records until you provide them.
However, because of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-related laws, doctors cannot email you medical records. The only way to get hold of your medical records is by fax, hand delivery, or snail mail.
Luckily, online faxing can be a cost effective and easy way to gather that information. Online fax providers convert faxes to PDFs that can be sent to your inbox as an attachment, so it’s as easy as emailing, and the information is encrypted in a way that is more secure than email.
You can use any online fax provider to get your medical records, but a few also offer HIPAA-compliant services that offer an extra level of encryption. That means that even in the event of a hack into a provider’s servers, your files would still be secure. Those providers are: eFax, RingCentral, SRFax, FaxAge and Sfax.
Here’s how it works: once you’ve picked a provider, you will sign up for a plan. As an example, we’ll walk through the process here with SRFax. Note that not all plans will have a free trial option; for the purposes of gathering medical records, you may want to sign up for a free trial. That way you can either cancel it after you’ve received the information you need – which will make the whole process free – or keep the service if you think you might need to send or receive faxes going forward.
First, select the plan you want to use:
And then decide whether you’d like a toll free or local fax number.
Once you’ve created an account and password, you will be able to go directly into your account and under “Faxes” choose to send a fax, or be ready to receive faxes. At this point you can call your doctor’s office and ask them to fax the relevant records to your new fax number.
Once you’ve received the records in your account, save the file to your computer – for extra backup, consider also saving it into the cloud.