Let’s improve health care access and outcomes by making it easier for people to receive and share important health information.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeks to change the HIPAA Privacy Rule to allow for more flexibility in how “protected health information” can be shared and they’re reviewing comments before they finalize these changes.
What would change for people affected by mental illness under this proposal?
This proposal seeks to change the HIPAA Privacy Rule to allow for more flexibility in how “protected health information” (PHI) can be shared and improve individuals’ care coordination by:
- Making it easier for people to access their own PHI, including removing barriers that cause delays;
- Limiting fees you can be charged to get access to your personal health records and requiring more transparency of costs related to health record requests; and
- Expanding the ability to use or share health records among health care providers, loved ones and caregivers when needed, including certain emergency situations and threats to health or safety.
These changes are intended to help improve health care access and outcomes by making it easier for people to receive and share important health information. We believe these changes can help family members and caregivers better engage with providers to support their loved one’s treatment while also helping a person with mental illness access their health information and share it more easily when needed.
Under this proposal, health care providers would be permitted to share information and updates on a patient’s condition more easily, as long as it is considered a “good faith belief.” This stands in contrast to the current rule of “exercise professional judgment,” which can be a difficult bar for families to navigate when attempting to coordinate with health care providers. Health care providers would also be able to share information if it is for the purpose of preventing a “serious and reasonably foreseeable threat,” instead of the current standard of a “serious and imminent threat.” NAMI believes this will allow providers to share health information more quickly and not force a provider to wait until it’s too late.
Additionally, this proposal would allow a person with a mental illness to become more engaged in their treatment plan by allowing anyone to take notes, videos or photos of their personal health records.
Overall, NAMI believes this proposal upholds the delicate balance between privacy protections and transparency while reducing many barriers that hurt health care access and outcomes.