Have you ever gone for a blood test and then had to wait weeks for your doctor to call you back…or maybe you never heard from him/her at all?

Well, soon you can have direct access to your lab results. A recent federal ruling will require medical labs to provide test results directly to patients who request them. Previously, patients in most states had to wait for labs to send results to their doctors, then for those doctors to contact them.

This ruling could not only help you obtain your lab results faster but also improve the odds that you will get your results at all. A recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine showed that medical providers neglect to inform patients about potentially problematic test results 7% of the time.

Waiting to receive lab results from the doctor may be the best option for you. (Call your doctor if you don’t hear back.) It ensures that you have a doctor’s help interpreting potentially confusing results.

But for a patient who has a chronic condition that requires frequent tests from the same lab, obtaining results directly from the lab could be an effective way to keep track of a health issue. Many people with chronic conditions have learned to interpret their own lab results.

Labs must come into compliance with this new rule no later than October 6. The federal ruling supersedes existing state rules that previously prohibited labs from providing results directly to patients in 13 states.