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New Consumer Tools Explain HIPAA Right to Access Health Information

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06/08/2016

To: WEDI Members
From: Privacy & Security Workgroup Co-Chairs

OCR has developed guidance and “easy to use” tools for the consumer regarding their right to access their health information.  These tools and resources are meant to educate the individual regarding their right to access their health information and engage them in their care.  Guidance was released previously for Covered Entities and Business Associates regarding the right to access.

Earlier this year, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released comprehensive guidance on the right of individuals under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to access and receive copies of their health information.  Providing individuals with easy access to their health information empowers them to be more in control of decisions regarding their health and well-being.  Individuals who can access their health information are better able to monitor chronic conditions, adhere to treatment plans, find and fix errors, and directly contribute their information to research.  

This guidance is available to all members of the public – but was initially aimed primarily at entities covered by HIPAA. In addition, individuals need tools to help them understand the right to access their health information.   To make OCR’s HIPAA access guidance more understandable for individuals, we teamed up with the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to create easy-to-understand tools, including videos and an “infographic,” an illustrated fact sheet.  The videos have been recorded in English, but are available with a Spanish caption.

  1. Individuals’ Right under HIPAA to Access their Health Information

This video addresses the basics of the HIPAA access right.  For example, the video explains the individual’s right to access their medical records and that access may only be denied in very limited circumstances.  

  1. HIPAA Access Associated Fees and Timing

This video explains that individuals may be charged reasonable fees for copies of their health information that include only certain labor, supply, and postage costs (where applicable) associated with making and delivering the copy requested by the individual.  The video also explains when access should be free, such as through a patient portal.

  1. HIPAA Access and Third Parties

This video focuses on the right of individuals to request that their health information be sent to a third party of their choice, such as a family member or even a mobile application.

  1. HIPAA Access Infographic

This one-page fact sheet, with illustrations, provides an overall summary of key aspects of the HIPAA right of individuals to access and receive a copy of their health information.

To learn more about individuals’ rights under HIPAA to access their health information, please visit: http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2016/01/07/understanding-individuals-right-under-hipaa-access-their.html

 

The material above was provided to the HBMA Commercial Payor Relations (CPR) Committee due to its continuing relationship with WEDI.