Proposed legislation would give patients improved access to records

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ecently introduced legislation in the House of Representatives seeks to reduce patient frustration in dealing with a variety of interactions with the nation’s healthcare providers as they try to access their health records.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (R-Wash.) introduced the bill, H.R 4613, which would authorize claims clearinghouses to build longitudinal health records for patients, for a reasonable cost-based fee, while also enabling the clearinghouses to analyze claims data including data on providers, diagnoses and treatment for episodes of care for the public good.

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, through the updating of existing policies and procedures that support dynamic technology solutions, promote patient access to information related to their care, including real world outcomes and economic data (including claims, eligibility and payment data), in a manner that would ensure that such information is available in a form convenient for the patient, in a reasonable manner, and without burdening the health care provider involved,” the proposed legislation states.

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The proposed law would give clearinghouses the authority to analyze data they collect, on topics that include patient outcomes, readmissions, comorbidities and adverse outcomes across providers. In addition, it would enable near real-time tracking of disease outbreaks, and it would aim to improve and enable access to new medications and therapies.

“Even in the age of technology, it can be difficult for patients to obtain their health records,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers says. “Whether it’s because of a move to a new state, switching providers, an unexpected visit to the emergency room or a new doctor, patients must track down their own records from numerous different sources based on what they can or cannot remember. It shouldn’t be this burdensome.”

The proposed legislation further would permit development of patient engagement tools, reports, analyses and presentations covering population health, epidemiological and health services data that may demonstrate a fiscal or treatment benefit to patients and health plan enrollees.

Other provisions in the legislation include:

  • Designating clearinghouses as a covered entity under HIPAA,
  • Forbidding clearinghouses or any other covered entity from using or disclosing protected health information for marketing purposes, and
  • Enabling a clearinghouse, at its discretion, to not provide a comprehensive record of a patient if providing such a record is not technically feasible.

The complete bill is available here.

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