Make the transition to a new doctor easier
Whether you're a senior moving to a new town and seeking a specialist, a parent who's sending their kids to a new pediatrician or someone just looking to get set up with a new doctor after a move, transferring medical and dental records to your new providers will help make sure you don’t experience a gap in care.
And since some doctors require submitting a written request form, it's best to take care of it before the move.
How to send medical records to a new doctor (or get a copy for yourself)
Thanks to The Privacy Rule, a federal law under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you have the right to access, review and get copies of your medical records, even if you have an outstanding balance. The law allows patients to request medical records be sent to a new doctor or get a personal copy. Here's how:
1. Talk to the new provider to determine what type of records they need
If you’ve chosen a new provider, ask them what type of records they prefer. Depending on your medical history, the specialty, and individual physician preferences, they may want:
- A summary
- Select parts
- The entire file (note: this could take more time and could be expensive, as some doctors may charge per page to print it)
Also find out where the new doctor wants records sent. Some may have a dedicated email address for records, or they could have a different mailing address for record-keeping apart from their physical location.
If you haven’t found a new doctor, follow the rest of the steps and request to obtain a copy of the records instead of transferring them.
2. Visit or call your current physician
If you need to update medical history or get prescriptions refilled before the move, make an appointment for an in-person visit. While there, tell the office staff or nurse that you’ll need to transfer or get medical records, and find out how.
If you don’t need to see the doctor, call the office and speak with staff about the process for obtaining or transferring medical records.
3. Submit the records request
While the records contain private health information, they actually belong to the doctor, so it’s crucial to follow their protocol to get a copy. They can't charge any fees to locate or retrieve the documents, but they can charge to print, mail or save the files on a digital storage device.
Some doctors may accept verbal requests while others may require a written notice. Follow the office's instructions and pay any necessary fees to start the transfer request.
Note: Providers you haven't seen in a while may still have a copy of your medical records on file. However, state laws vary regarding how long a physician or hospital has to keep your records.
4. Wait for the transfer to complete
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a provider must honor any request within 30 calendar days under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. If they need more time, they can have 30 more days, but they have to send a written statement of the reasons for the delay within the first 30-day period.
If 60 calendar days have gone by, follow the directions for filing a complaint here.
5. Keep the records safe
If holding your own medical and dental records, keep them in a safe place as soon as they’re in your possession.
- For electronic records, keep them on a password-protected device.
- For paper records, store them in a secure place like a bank lockbox or a safe, and only release them to a new provider or trusted parties.
If you have questions about the process of moving medical records, we suggest starting with your healthcare provider. For questions about patient rights, check out the HIPAA section on HHS.gov.
For anything moving related, U-Pack® can help. Leave us a comment below.
Wondering what else to take care of before the move? Use our moving checklist, so you don't forget anything!
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