How Soon Can I See My X-Rays Online?

Can I See My X-Rays Online? x-ray image of a hand

Wondering how quickly you can see your X-rays online? With PocketHealth, your medical images and health records are at your fingertips, including your X-rays.

A medical X-ray uses a low-dose of radiation to create images of the internal structures of your body. Your doctor may refer you for an X-ray to help diagnose or monitor a variety of conditions, illnesses or injuries from pneumonia to kidney stones to bone fractures.

If you’ve had an X-ray, you may want access to your images and report, especially if you’re actively monitoring a specific illness or recovery from an injury. This article breaks down what you can expect when it comes to accessing your X-ray results, including:

  • How long it takes to get your X-ray results
  • The benefits of having access to your X-ray images and reports
  • What your online X-ray results might show
  • Who might have access to your X-rays

The ability to access your own medical images and records is not only helpful to your health journey, it’s also the law. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in the U.S. and the Privacy Act in Canada, including Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) at the provincial level, every patient has the right to access their personal medical information.

Having access to your medical images, records and reports provides you with the opportunity to take control of your own health journey. By seeing your X-rays and reading the accompanying report, you can plan for any next steps you might need to take. You’ll be able to ask more knowledgeable questions at your follow-up appointment and get a second opinion if desired.

By accessing your records through PocketHealth you can securely store, understand and share all your medical images and reports. Access your records here.

How long do you typically wait for X-ray results?

A technologist takes your X-rays, capturing the required images, which are sent to a radiologist who interprets them and prepares a report for your physician. The process usually takes between 2-5 business days. Then you’ll discuss the results with your physician at a follow-up appointment.
Different circumstances can speed up or slow down the process, such as:

  • The urgency of your specific situation. In crisis cases, X-ray results are usually delivered immediately.
  • The complexity of the X-ray. If the X-ray is complicated, or several different or overlapping images are required, wait times might be longer.
  • The need for more information. An X-ray might reveal the need for more information or other diagnostic imaging to provide the radiologist with all the necessary information to make a diagnosis.
  • The need to review. If an X-ray needs to be compared to a previous version or another image, tracking down the earlier images can lengthen wait times.
  • The mode of transmission. The manner in which X-rays are transferred between the imaging clinic or hospital and the referring physician may dictate how long it takes to get your results. Diagnostic-quality images are often transferred via CD or a secure network link, while reports are sometimes faxed.

Not all platforms or patient portals will include X-ray images along with the results. Even if they do, the X-ray images may not be of diagnostic quality. Diagnostic-quality imaging is important because it allows you to view your results just as your physician does and enables you to easily get a second opinion.

5 benefits of having access to your X-rays online

Waiting for your X-ray results can be stressful. If you feel left in the dark waiting on the results, PocketHealth can help you gain some control with fast, easy and secure access to your medical reports, as soon as they are available.

Here are 5 ways PocketHealth helps ensure you are a partner, not a passenger, in your own care:

  • You get faster, easier access. With PocketHealth, you can see your reports and X-ray photos online as soon as they’re released by the radiologist and you can view on any device. You don’t have to wait for the follow-up appointment with your doctor.
  • You can share your results. You can share your images with the health care professionals of your choice, keep your wider health team updated or get a second opinion right from your account. Print, email or fax a secure access page to another practitioner, who doesn’t even have to be on PocketHealth to view your X-ray images in full diagnostic quality.
  • You can ask more informed questions. An X-ray report is full of complex medical terms. PocketHealth Report Reader can help you understand what those terms mean, so you can have more informed follow-up discussions with your physician.
  • You’ll never miss a follow-up. With all the medical terminology, it can be easy to overlook follow-up recommendations. PocketHealth Follow-Up Navigator spotlights when a follow-up has been recommended, so you’ll always know the next steps to take.
  • You own your records. At PocketHealth, your records are secured with top-tier encryption technology, located in one place for you to access and share. The secure storage also provides rapid access, so you can avoid requesting records in writing, which can take up to two months and might require a fee.

What will my online X-rays show?

The outputs from an X-ray include both the images and a report. The exact findings will depend on what type of X-ray you had and why. A chest X-ray, for instance, might be looking for evidence of pneumonia, while a bone X-ray might be scanning for fractures.

To interpret the X-ray images, radiologists examine the following:

  • Density: the denser the structure in an X-ray image, the lighter the colour. Bone appears pale grey, for example, while fat is dark charcoal.
  • Lucency: a dark spot on an X-ray, lucency is the opposite of density.
  • Undulation: a wavy or uneven appearance.

Depending on their size, contrast, and where they’re located, all three can be normal or a sign of abnormality. Having access to your images and report doesn’t replace the importance of a follow-up appointment with your referring physician. But if you get your results ahead of time, you can use Report Reader to quickly understand complex medical terminology and definitions and to identify any follow-up recommendations. That way you can be fully informed when you discuss the results with your doctor.

Who has access to my X-rays?

Depending on your specific situation and needs, several parties may have access to your X-rays. Here’s a list of who may access your X-rays:

  • You. In both Canada (under PHIPA) and the U.S. (under HIPAA), it is the law that patients can access their own medical records, including imaging and reports. Some clinics have patient portals through which you can access your X-rays, or you can view them through a secure online platform like PocketHealth.
  • The X-ray technologist. Your X-rays will be taken by a skilled technologist, who will pass the images on to a radiologist for interpretation.
  • The radiologist. The radiologist at the hospital or clinic will review your X-rays and create a report of the findings for your referring physician. You can access both your images and the report with PocketHealth.
  • Your primary care provided (often your referring physician). The radiologist will send the images and completed report to your referring physician, who will review them and share the results with you at a follow-up appointment.
  • Parent/legal guardian. If the patient is a minor (under 18 years old), a parent or legal guardian can access their medical records and images to expedite medical treatment and care.
  • Advocate/caregiver. If a patient has provided written consent, an advocate can receive medical records on their behalf. An advocate or caregiver can also receive medical records if the patient is unable to provide consent.
  • Insurance companies. If an X-ray is required for the treatment of an illness or injury that involves insurance coverage, the insurance company has the right to review the images and report.
  • Care facilities. In order to give ongoing care, doctors, nurses and staff at long-term care facilities can review the medical records of patients.
    Rehabilitation centers. If a patient’s course of treatment involves visits to a rehabilitation center, attending medical staff can access their medical records during their stay.
  • Hospitals and labs. To provide the most appropriate recommendations and treatment, hospitals and labs might need to review past and current medical records and images, including X-rays.

Advocating for your health

Having secure access to your own X-ray records gives you the opportunity to fully understand them. With PocketHealth you can view your X-ray images and get definitions of complex radiology terminology even before your follow-up appointment. And when you’re fully informed, you can be confident and ready to advocate for yourself on the next step in your health journey.

How PocketHealth works

Learn more about how to use PocketHealth to access and share your X-ray results.

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