A new playbook recently released from the American Medical Association aims to facilitate patient data access. The four-part guide dispels HIPAA myths in a question and answer format, placing complex governmental regulations in context. The playbook spells out patient rights and provider responsibilities clearly and efficiently to educate providers on best practices for medical records sharing.
The playbook contains 4 sections of educational information and reference resources for protecting patient privacy while providing convenient record access. The book’s underlying assumption is that patient data access is moving towards a fundamental right, and is an essential component of patient engagement. Asking patients to take greater responsibility for their own health requires access to as much information as possible.
The playbook describes the when, where, why and how of HIPAA record access. It also describes how the intersections between state laws and Promoting Interoperability initiatives affect provider responsibilities. One major takeaway for providers is that simply providing patient portal access does not ensure HIPAA compliance. Patients have the right to receive more information than is available within the patient portal through alternative means.
Additionally, if a patient insists that they wish to receive their records via email, as long as they have been informed of the risks, providers cannot require the patient to use an alternative. Finally, if a patient requests information to be shared via app, you are required to do so under HIPAA if you have the existing technology in place.
Following the education component, the playbook suggests ways to efficiently operationalize patient record access. A top suggestion is that getting to know your EHR’s capabilities better can help your office fulfill record requests more easily. If your EHR is 2015 certified, it will already meet certain minimum capabilities.
By law, providers must distribute patient records in the format specified by the patient, but only if the format is readily producible. Your practice does not need to pay your vendor for a new feature, but you must be familiar with what your EHR can readily produce in order to stay compliant. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with all data sharing features and modalities.
The AMA Patient Data Access Playbook can be accessed here.