June 13, 2011

Electronic Access Info to Be Allowed to Patients

For once, the patients are being may be given the rights to see who accesses their electronic medical records. If the current plan stays the course, the earliest you will be able to get a record of who accessed you electronic medical records will not happen until after January 1, 2013. Not that you will be able to do much about it, but at least you will be able to see the when and who accessed your records. This proposed right would allow you to see documentation of the particular person who electronically accessed and viewed your health information.

This will mean that any individual that accesses your electronic health records will be documented for you. This will of course include physicians, hospitals, health plans, and other healthcare organizations, plus law enforcement, judicial hearings, public health investigations. A record is currently kept of this information, but until this rule goes into effect, hopefully on January 1, 2013, you as the patient have no rights to see who accessed your records.

This proposed new privacy rule is issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services and appears in the Federal Register. Public comments are accepted until August 1, 2011. If the rule goes into effect, then all privacy rules must be updated and a new copy of the rules will be given to all patients seen on or after January 1, 2013.

The proposed privacy rule is divided into two separate rights for individuals. The first right sets forth an individual's right to an accounting of disclosures, to include the date of disclosure, what information was disclosed, the recipient of the information, and the purpose of the disclosure – for example, law enforcement. The second right focuses on the right to an access report.

The proposed rule would also would reduce the responding time for an accounting request from 60 days to 30 days and the current six years of disclosures would be reduced to three years.

This proposed rule is an important step in the efforts to promote accountability across the health care system. This would ensure that providers properly safeguard private health information. The need to protect peoples' rights (more appropriately patient's rights) so that they know how their health information has been used or disclosed."

Read the article about this proposed rule change here.

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