Earlier this month, the Office of Civil Rights released a toolkit to help individuals understand HIPAA and their rights to their own health data. The HIPAA privacy rule has alway granted patients the right to access and receive a copy of their health information from their doctors, hospitals and health insurance plans. This right is what allows patients to take ownership of their own health. Doing so allows individuals to monitor conditions, comply with treatment plans, fix errors in their records, track wellness, and directly contribute their information to research. At Keystone IT, we believe so strongly that this right is imperative to health and wellbeing that we established the following vision for our company: “Keystone IT seeks to enable and empower every person to control and improve his or her own health.”
Innovation around and the use of health technology is quickly changing healthcare. This evolution is supported by rapid, secure exchange of electronic health information and more targeted treatments discovered through the new precision medicine model of patient-powered research. At this point in the evolution, patient data is golden. It is used to build treatment plans, establish hospital protocols, find trends, and improve health. Armed with this information, patients are able to find the treatment, physician, and health system that works best for them. Unfortunately, based on recent studies and the OCR’s enforcement experience, far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This must change.
At Keystone IT, we will continue to support and encourage access for patients to their own data. We will continue to remind our clients of this right and promote quick and easy access to the patients. The OCR is developing additional guidance and other tools as necessary to ensure individuals understand and can exercise their right to access their health information. Furthermore, the OCR is working with partners to produce consumer-friendly resources, including sample communications tools to encourage patients to access their digital health information.
If you are a health system, hospital, or private practice and are unsure how to best provide your patients with their information in an appropriate, digital method, please feel free to reach out to us here at Keystone IT. We’d love to help.