When are healthcare providers able to electronically transmit patient treatment information to other providers, and when must they get consent from a patient before doing so?
That’s an issue that Carequality, a coalition of stakeholders working to solve interoperability issues via consensus, is going to tackle, and they’re looking for assistance in developing authorization policies and standards.
In general, HIPAA permits healthcare providers to release patient treatment information to other providers for payment, treatment and healthcare operational purposes, notes Dave Cassel, director of Carequality, which is an initiative of The Sequoia Project, a coalition of payers, providers and vendors. The Sequoia Project operates eHealthExchange, the national health information network.
But there are other instances, particularly involving patients receiving services for drug abuse, substance abuse and behavioral health, under which patients must provide consent for their information to be exchanged. As a result, Carequality wants to develop a uniform way for providers to electronically communicate when patient consent is needed before their information can be shared via standard CCD and C-CDA documents. Those electronic formats typically are transmitted to disparate electronic health records platforms, as well as through other avenues of health information exchange.
The basic goal of Carequality, Cassel explains, is to connect networks, just as cell phone users who have different service providers are able to call each other without intermediaries. “In healthcare, we have data exchange platforms that don’t connect to each other,” he says. Consequently, Carequality is working to provide the legal structures and technical tools to provide connectivity across networks.
Carequality says it’s seeking volunteers for two workgroups. The Technical Workgroup “will propose an electronic messaging structure, or process, to let a requester of records—often a provider or their staff—know that the patient’s permission must be documented before records can be released to the requester,” Carequality notes. “The structure will also support mechanisms for the requester to meet the record source’s requirements, and convey the fact that the requirements have been met back to the record source.”
The Policy Workgroup will focus on applying Carequality’s trust principles to the patient authorization process to ensure everyone is treated equally. For instance, if a provider agrees to share information with a payer, the provider should participate with any other payer similarly situated that is working within the Carequality process.
Information on volunteering for a Carequality patient authorization workgroup is available here.
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