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21st Century Cures Act

Learn how the Cures Act affects each individual's access to their medical information.
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How do I update my notification preferences in MyChart?

Are you getting too many notices from MyChart, or not enough? To update your notification preferences, follow these steps:

  1. Login to MyChart
  2. Select "Menu" (top left of the page)
  3. Select "Account Settings"
  4. Select "Communication Preferences" and adjust by selecting or deselecting items

Did You Know?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are, as of April 5, 2021, requiring health providers to release patient information from their medical records by default, with a few exceptions for sensitive genetic, patient safety, or legal situations.


Data shows that when health and treatment information is readily and openly shared, there is an increase in patient engagement leading to improved patient safety and better outcomes.


Inova patients already have access to more than 60 percent of their lab results, and 40 percent of other patient chart information, such as clinical notes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is changing?

With the Cures Act, health information will be more readily available to the patients in their MyChart account. In some instances, patients could receive results even before providers and staff. It is important to us that our patients trust their care team and feel comfortable asking questions if they do not understand a note in their medical record.

Inova patients already have access to personal health information in their Inova MyChart patient portal, including lab reports and tests results, but the Cures Act allows for even greater access to their records.

What information will be shared with me?

After April 5, 2021, there will be eight types of clinical notes that must be shared:

  • Consultation notes
  • Discharge summary notes
  • History & physician notes
  • Imaging notes
  • Laboratory notes
  • Pathology report notes
  • Procedure notes
  • Progress notes

Please note that you will have immediate access to laboratory results, pathology and radiology results. This may mean that you see the results before members of your care team have had a chance to review them. Trust that your Inova care team has a treatment plan to address any concerns that may arise from your testing.

What are the benefits of reading my notes?

  • Have a better understanding of your health and medical conditions
  • Feel more in control of your health
  • Have more information to take better care of yourself
  • Feel comfortable sharing notes with your care team

How can I make the best use of my notes?

  • Read the note after the visit to remind you what was discussed and to review the treatment plan, including changes in your medication, testing, appointments, or any referrals needed.
  • Review the note between visits to make sure you’re on track with recommended follow up.
  • Read the note before your next visit to help you prepare questions for your provider and care team.

What if I don't understand something written in my notes?

Providers are encouraged to minimize confusing medical terminology and abbreviations and be transparent in their notes. If you have a question about a note or an unfamiliar term, contact your care team to discuss.

Common Medical Abbreviations

What are "open notes"?

Open Notes is the term for progress notes and other medical record annotations that are available to patients. The note includes information that you shared during the visit as well as your provider’s thoughts about your diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up steps. Sharing these notes gives you as the patient the opportunity to review the details of your visit as often as you need to.

How do I update my notification preferences in MyChart?

Are you getting too many notices from MyChart, or not enough? To update your notification preferences, follow these steps:

  1. Login to MyChart
  2. Select "Menu" (top left of the page)
  3. Select "Account Settings"
  4. Select "Communication Preferences" and adjust by selecting or deselecting items

When can I see a note from my visit?

You will be able to find your notes in Inova MyChart as soon as they are completed by your provider. 

I’m worried about privacy. Who else has access to my health information?

The Cures Act doesn’t change HIPAA in any way, but rather enhances the patient’s right to access their personal health information (PHI). HIPAA makes it clear that health data belongs to the patient. Your medical information can only be viewed by people who are legitimately involved in your care. Information will be viewable by a patient's full-access proxy so it is important to check who else you might have granted access permission to your health information. To maintain your privacy it is very important to keep your MyChart login and password information private.

How do I adjust proxy access?

Proxy access allows parents, legal guardians or caregivers to access a patient’s health information on the patient portal.

Patient parents/guardians can request full proxy access for a child between the ages of 0-13 years old. Parents/Guardians of patients 14-17 will have limited access to the patient's MyChart account. Patients can give family members or friends proxy access by completing the proxy access form. These forms are available on the Inova MyChart FAQ webpage under "MyChart for My Family and Legal Guardians."

When the form is filled out, the patient must return it to the clinic or hospital, and the completed form should be scanned into their electronic medical record. Both the patient and proxy must have an active MyChart account.

Is it possible for me to see my entire medical record?

All patients have a right to request their full medical record. To receive a copy of your medical record, follow the instructions on our website:

Medical Records Request

Who do I contact if I see an error in MyChart?

Please contact your provider via MyChart if you see an error.

"The Cures Act and Open Notes are a cultural change and philosophy, not just a law or technology enhancement. It aligns with Inova’s transformation and our care imperative by including patients as part of the Inova care team. Access to a patient’s information better enables the patient to build trust with us, be more engaged and more actively manage their own health. Learnings from patients and colleagues will be vital to transform care."
– Dr. Maruf Haider, Chief Health Informatics Officer
"Our notes should reflect our philosophy on care at Inova and our value of Patient Always by working with compassion to ensure every action we take puts the patient and family first. We encourage patients to play an active role in their care, and this starts with being transparent in our note taking and building that trust for a long-lasting relationship."
- Dr. Neeta Goel, Chief Medical Officer, Ambulatory Services
"Caring relationships with patients require us to listen, observe, and care about their opinion. Transparent and timely information helps to strengthen the care team and patient relationship. Providing our patients with the best possible care and experience is at the foundation of every action we take here at Inova.”
– Shawn Smith, AVP, Patient Experience
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