Consumer Leader Applauds New Rule Giving Patients Access to Lab Test Results

Statement of Christine Bechtel, Vice President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Member, Health IT Policy Committee
Leader, Campaign for Better Care

WASHINGTON, DC — September 14, 2011 — "Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will make public a proposed rule to give patients direct access to their lab test results. This is a welcome move that empowers patients to become true partners in their health care decisions, promotes the transparency our system needs, and ultimately helps us use our health care dollars more wisely.

Certainly doctors and other providers have an important role to play in helping patients understand and interpret their test results. This rule will not change that. But it will help patients access their information when they want and need to, ensure that their medical records are updated and accurate, and support them in being active and informed decision-makers in their care.

Right now, millions of patients do not get lab test results when they need them most. One oft-cited study found that patients were not informed of seven percent of abnormal test results. Another finds that eight to 20 percent of adults who were treated as outpatients did not receive their test results. That adds up to millions of patients without the information they need. We can do better.

Put simply, our nation will not be able to provide the high-quality, coordinated, patient-centered care that individuals and their family caregivers urgently need unless we make information more readily available to consumers and support their role in making informed decisions. This proposed rule is a major advancement for patients. It recognizes their right to their own health information. It can advance better care at lower cost. We commend the Department of Health & Human Services for issuing it."


The Campaign for Better Care is working to protect vulnerable older patients with multiple health problems and ensure they can access well-coordinated, quality health care. The Campaign for Better Care is led by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Community Catalyst, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the National Health Law Program — and funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.