The rules having to do with patient access to records need to be reflected in every healthcare-related organization’s policies and procedures. The guidance provides clear and detailed information on how to provide access, what can be charged in fees, and what the individual’s rights are when it comes to access to information. The rallying cry for easy patient access and transfer of information increases daily and is no longer escapable. The proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule would put into regulation the access guidance, and provide new avenues for patients to request copies of their records be sent to their current providers.
A recent Federal court decision changed some of the aspects of the individual access rules about transmitting records to third parties at the request of the individual. Additionally, HHS has issued guidance when HIPAA Business Associates are involved, regarding the responsibility for the timing, form, and format of replies to requests for access, and the responsibilities for compliance with the fee requirements. To top it off, individual access rules may be modified under the proposed HIPAA rule changes, reducing the time to provide requested information, and making access easier for individuals. The changes would also enable easier sharing of information for purposes of care coordination.
The COVID-19 Emergency has made clear the need to provide services remotely to the extent possible. Providers need to communicate more, between themselves and with their patients. To facilitate the delivery of services and necessary communications during the emergency, the US Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance relaxing some HIPAA requirements about teleconferencing tools and disclosures for public health reasons by HIPAA Business Associates, but the Emergency status is drawing to a close and all communications, including telemedicine, will need to meet HIPAA standards.
HHS has also issued guidance to remind healthcare providers of the allowances for communications with family and friends, with disaster relief organizations, and to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of individuals or the public.
HIPAA compliance activity recently has included a push to provide individual access to records, limits on those rules from the courts, new enforcement actions about access, and new regulations to complement the HIPAA rules for access. Business Associate responsibilities for compliance have been better defined, and requirements for the establishment of those relationships have been relaxed in some cases for the COVID-19 emergency, but relaxations end when the emergency ends. And now new changes to HIPAA have been proposed, to ease access by individuals and sharing of Protected Health Information where appropriate, and try to relieve some of the administrative burdens of the rules. These proposed changes may go into effect in 2022.
Why Should You Attend
Over many years, the heads of the US DHHS have indicated that patient access to information is a key priority to improve the health of the nation. Patient rights under HIPAA have been expanded to include several rights of access, and detailed guidance has been issued on access to records. And more than two dozen of the most recent HIPAA enforcement actions have been against entities that did not provide patient access to records properly. HHS is now using HIPAA Individual Access Rights to effectively implement new rules on prohibitions to Data Blocking.
HHS has also proposed changes to the HIPAA privacy rule to enhance patient access as well as ease the burdens of sharing information for purposes of care coordination, and other modifications that will require entities to update their Notices of Privacy Practices.
In addition, compliance activities related to privacy and information security are continuing, with recent settlements for systemic noncompliance with the Security Rule, including the lack of risk analysis, policy development, and training activities related to information security, as well as for improper sharing or posting of patient information under the Privacy Rule. With the continuing threats of hackers and ransomware, good practices in information security can pay off if there’s a problem, as the HIPAA Safe Harbor Law calls for limited investigations and penalties if good practices can be shown.
This session will look at the current state of HIPAA and identify recent guidance and court decisions affecting HIPAA, as well as expected changes in the rules in the coming year, and the focus and results of various HIPAA enforcement actions.
Who Should Attend