Written by: Diana Hembree

Sometimes we’ve seen something for so long that we don’t really see it anymore.

That’s the way it was with the ubiquitous lines of patients waiting for Medical Records at hospitals and clinics in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ network. Safety net patients would line up daily for a long, tiring wait to get copies of lab reports, X-rays or exams. It was a scene so familiar to the hardworking clinic and hospital employees that it had just become part of the landscape.

But Dr. Anshu Abhat, a primary care doctor who was relatively new to the department and to her primary care clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, was seeing it through fresh eyes.

Dr. Anshu Abhat

“If I hadn’t gone down a long hallway and around the corner that day, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the line, either,” she said of the unhappy scene she encountered.

It was lunch time, which meant the Medical Records staff had closed the window and the weary people in line could expect an extra hour’s wait. Some were on crutches; others had babies and children in tow. There was nowhere to sit down, and patients were frustrated, Abhat recalls. “As usual, everyone in the line was angry and annoyed,” she said. “It definitely gave me pause.” And that’s how the idea of a new way for patients to get their medical records was born.