HHS praised for HIPAA guidance


by Arthur Allen

Source: Politico

With help from David Pittman and Darius Tahir

HHS GETS A HIPAA-HIP HOORAY — HHS's Office for Civil Rights won the admiration of patient advocates, coders and app makers with the guidance it issued Thursday to clarify patients' rights to their health information. Most patients are either unaware of their right to see health records, or run into trouble trying to obtain them, but the OCR is here to help. “Far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule," OCR said in a news release . "This must change." The guidance clarifies what patients must do to request access to those records, and establishes acceptable timelines for turning them over. It also explains how HIPAA rules interact and overlap with the view, download and transmit requirements of meaningful use. OCR director Joyce Samuels lays it all out in this blog post.

The GetMyHealthData Campaign commended HHS for the release. Campaign coordinator Christine Bechtel applauded OCR for noting that entities should leverage technology to respond to requests for records quickly, ideally sooner than the 30-day “outer limit” established by the law. She also liked its confirmation that providers can’t require patients to pick up their records in person. The guidance also clarifies when providers may deny access, and explains the process for transmitting a patient’s record to a third party, such as a caregiver.

... “We’re enthusiastic about sharing these new resources with our members, many of whom serve as liaisons between patients and health care providers, to improve the availability of health information across the health care landscape,” adds Lynne Thomas Gordon, CEO of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

.. Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT|The App Association likes the guidance but said its release “does not obviate the need for OCR to create more useful resources for app makers and connected device companies [which] must have clear guidelines to continue innovating in this life-changing space.”

Tweet of the Day: Deven McGraw @HealthPrivacy This guidance is first in a series - more FAQs coming...

Welcome to Friday, where we’re reading Michael Grunwald’s rundown of Obama’s achievements, which cites upbeat, nose-thumbing former health IT czar Farzad Mostashari: “[T]he griping reminded him of Louis C.K.’s ‘Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy’ riff, where the comedian mocks airline passengers who whine about slow Wi-Fi instead of appreciating the miracle of flight.” No matter whether you’re Cassandra or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, unload on aallen@politico.com or tweet toward @arthurallen202, @David_Pittman, @dariustahir.

Oh and don't miss the rest of ....

THE OBAMA ISSUE — POLITICO MAGAZINE OUT TODAY: Days before President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address, POLITICO Magazine releases a standout issue on America’s 44th president and his hotly contested, historic presidency. Glenn Thrush, Michael Grunwald, Rich Lowry, Michael Eric Dyson, and Michael Crowley are just some of the contributors to this must-read issue. Read here http://politi.co/1JZskHF or grab a print copy at a Starbucks around D.C.

DON’T MISS THE COVER — Created by artist Craig Ward, the extraordinary cover is made up of hundreds of images of the president, an in-progress constellation of thousands of moments, big and small. http://bit.ly/1VNKXVR

ATTENTION EHR SHOPPERS: Doctors who testified Thursday before a task force helping ONC develop a comparison tool for EHRs said the group faced a complex task. One even said it was a waste of time. Congress mandated the 10-member task force through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The group is supposed to examine the feasibility of creating and maintaining a tool to enable providers to comparison shop for EHRs, part of ONC’s EHR certification program.

… Doug Ashinsky, a small-practice internist from New Jersey, said this was a waste of time, effort and money. Large healthcare providers have IT experts to choose their EHRs; smaller providers usually have little choice in their purchases, he said. He urged the task force instead to ask Congress to abolish the meaningful use program. Others at the hearing – including pediatricians, psychiatrists, physical therapists and ob-gyns – described the difficulty of creating a tool that would fit the needs of each specialty, and urged special attention to smaller practices. The task force meets again today to weigh what they heard.

PATHWAY TO WELLNESS: At the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday, Pathway Genomics and IBM released a Watson-powered app that “merges cognitive computing and deep learning with precision medicine and genetics.” It apparently combines genetic information with the stuff of normal wearables and fitness apps: diet, exercise and metabolism reporting. Eventually, according to the announcement, the app will allow users to include information from their EHRs.

… Also at CES, a company called Profusa demonstrated a wearable sensor that allows for long-term continuous monitoring of your body chemistry, if that should happen to float your boat. But seriously, I’m sure there are worthy uses for it.

… In other news from Vegas, Fitbit, Fossil, and an outfit called Healbe unveiled new devices, as did UnderArmour.

Speaking of Fitbit, the company is facing another class action suit, per Mobihealth, this time over its heart rate monitoring, which plaintiffs claim is dangerously inaccurate. Read about it here.

HEALTH IT EN MASS-ACHUSETTS: The Bay State on Thursday rolled out a public-private partnership to stimulate the state's health IT sector. The initiative will provide office space to health IT entrepreneurs and help hook them up with academics, hospitals and other partners, according to Gov. Charlie Baker, who attended the announcement with various executives and other notables including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

PERSONNEL NEWS: Crosscut Strategies, which recently lost Adam Brickman to Omada Health, has announced a new VP, Tait Sye, who was most recently a spokesman at HHS, and before that directed media a Planned Parenthood and once upon a time worked for the Edwards and Gore campaigns. “Tait deepens Crosscut's digital health and crisis practice,” says CEO Kenneth Baer.

ICYMI, the AMA this week released its list of the top nine issues that will affect its members in 2016. Medicare reform and meaningful use (“This burdensome regulatory program”) lead off, with health data security and telemedicine filling positions eight and nine, respectively.

HARSH WORDS FOR TEXAS: The National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-wing think tank, is slamming Texas’s telemedicine policies, which are currently being challenged by Teladoc. The regs require an in-person or face-to-face visit before a virtual one, and thereby “undermine the effort Texas has made to increase access to medical care through telemedicine,” the report says. “With the population of Texas projected to double by 2050, attempting to limit telemedicine patients and providers is a dangerous bet against the future of health care in Texas.” The report: http://bit.ly/1K1Jzbo

WHAT WE'RE CLICKING:

Nurses like telemedicine, per this study http://bit.ly/1PSm1vI

A Wyoming hospital’s frustrations with its EHR http://bit.ly/1ZevYK2

An “artificial pancreas” raises questions about reimbursement http://bit.ly/1Of5b5F

Charles Jaffee on interoperability http://bit.ly/1S7T5Bj

Hardship exemptions and meaningful use http://bit.ly/1Za1x2i

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Arthur Allen (aallen@politico.com, @ArthurAllen202), David Pittman ( dpittman@politico.com, @David_Pittman) and Darius Tahir (dtahir@politico.com, @DariusTahir)






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