Task Force Weighs Consumer Consent Options for Electronic Exchange of Health Information

The NCMS is participating in the NCHICA NC Health Information Security and Privacy Consent Policy Options Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to analyze and determine what level of control consumers should have regarding the electronic exchange of health information among and between health care providers, where all such providers have a clinical relationship with the consumer. Under current laws (federal and state law), consumer consent is not required to share most protected health information for treatment (or for payment or operations) purposes. Concerns, however, have been raised by consumer groups and others that some patients may decide to avoid or delay medical care for fear that protected health information could be more readily accessed by or shared with persons who are not authorized to access to such information. The task force is looking at the possible pros and cons of the following consent options for the electronic exchange of health information:

  • No choice – Under this option, patient’s records are automatically placed into the health information exchange (HIE) system, regardless of patient preferences. This alternative assumes that all records of patients of participating entities will be available to the system. Unless convinced otherwise, NCMS believes this is the best option.
  • Opt-out — Patient’s health information is automatically placed into the HIE system and exchange is allowed for sharing health information without the patient’s prior permission. The patient’s information remains in the system and is available for electronic exchange unless and until the patient chooses to opt-out of participation.
  • Opt-in – Patient’s health information is not automatically placed into the HIE system, and exchange of health information is not allowed without the patient’s prior permission.
  • Opt out with exceptions – Patient’s health information is automatically placed into the HIE system and exchange is allowed for sharing of health information wit hout the patient’s prior permission. The patient’s information remains available for electronic exchange until the patient chooses to opt-out of participation. Patients may specify (i) to whom health information may not be disclosed; (ii) for what purposes health information may not be disclosed, and/or (iii) what specific health information may not be disclosed; and
  • Opt in with restrictions – Patients’ health information is not automatically placed into the HIE system, and exchange of health information is not allowed without the patient’s prior permission. This option also allows patients to restrict (i) to whom health information may be disclosed, (ii) the purpose of the disclosure, and/or (iii) what specific health information may be disclosed.For additional information, click here and scroll down to NC HISPC Consent Policy Options Task Force.
 
 

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