The 21st Century Cares Act Changes When Test Results Become Available to Patients

The 21st Century Cares Act is a new federal law that requires health care providers to give patients access to all their health information without delay which allows for your test results, as well as notes related to your visits, to be accessible in the patient portal right away.

What this means for patients using the portal, is that in some cases you will be able to view your test results prior to your provider reviewing them. It is important for patients to note that they may need to wait a day or two after test results become available in the portal to hear back from the doctor. Our physicians need time to review and process the results and develop a plan before speaking with the patient. For some test results, this change is already occurring; and for others it is coming soon.

At The Pediatric Orthopedic Center, we realize this change may be unsettling for certain patients as it may be difficult to interpret your test results. While some people like seeing their results immediately, others may feel anxious and would prefer that their provider review and interpret the results first. Your provider will continue to review your test results and contact you as quickly as possible. As always, if you have any health- or health record-related questions, don’t hesitate to contact your provider.

To help you understand your results should you view them before hearing from your provider, we compiled a bit of information to keep in mind:

Some results may be marked as abnormal even though they are normal for you. This happens because the result is compared to a preset normal range for the lab.

Not all abnormal results are clinically relevant. Test results are combined with other markers and factors like symptoms and medical history. This is why it is important for your provider to interpret the test results.

Be aware that you may see results that are difficult to understand or indicative of serious illness. For that reason, you may want to wait to view your results until your provider contacts you.

Results are published as they become available. You may not see all your results at the same time. If you are concerned that your test results will make you nervous, consider waiting until your provider reaches out to you.

This is especially important to consider if it is late in the evening or on a Friday when your provider may be unavailable. Feelings of uncertainty or anxiety can make the evening or weekend very stressful.

Please be assured that your provider will always review and communicate your results as they have in the past. If you do see your results and notice an abnormal reading, try not to worry as your provider will discuss all tests with you in detail as quickly as possible. If you would prefer not to see your results before your provider, please let them know when the lab or test is ordered so that he or she can hold the results until you can be contacted.

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