Issue 28 E-News Inside this Issue:
∙ President’s Message ∙ Rural Leadership
∙ Volunteer Opportunity ∙ Awards and Scholarships
∙ AzHIMA Advocating the Issues ∙ On The Hill
∙ Code Explosion ∙ AzHIMA Annual Meeting
∙ Are you preparing to sit for your RHIT or RHIA exam?
∙ Welcome New Members AND MORE!
Newsletter Editor: Christine Austin, RHIA, CHP, FACHE ARIZONA HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
President’s Message byManny Soto-Griego, RHIA
OCR Sets Guidelines for Release of Information Fees and Patient’s Rights to Access their Health Information.
This was delivered at our door step as a Trojan gift horse, appearing with no prior announcement, pomp or circumstance. It took me two weeks from the date it was released to
get around to read it. When I did, I was amazed in what I was reading. I immediately forwarded the document to our Compliance and Legal departments with bulleted concern.
On February 25th, 2016, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued HIPAA guidance -- in the form of FAQs posted on its website – regarding, among other guidance, the fees providers can charge for the reasonable costs associated with the timely and secure production of patient records. If you and/or your Compliance and Privacy Officers have not had an opportunity to read this, I urge you to. You can access the guidance at http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-
The following are key takeaways from this guidance and the affects that this has:
With no rulemaking or meaningful notice, the guidance dramatically affects the fees healthcare providers can charge for certain 3rd-party requests for patient records used for non-clinical purposes by limiting both the scope and method through which charges may be calculated, including establishing in one instance a cap of $ 6.50. This will have significant unintended, adverse consequences to patients and healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers often outsource to health information management service providers, which can be much more cost- effective and, whose services can securely create, compile, extract, scan and produce patient records. This model has saved providers and patients billions of dollars and is helping the healthcare industry to better achieve HIPAA’s goals of privacy, data security, and patient access.
The guidance will not only result in a shift of over $1 billion of costs for production of records for non-clinical use from 3rd- parties onto all patients and their healthcare providers, but also undermine the economics of the industry that, as described above, enable the general practice of providing many medical records at no charge.
The guidance specifically instructs the healthcare providers that a patient can request the organization to “send the copy directly to a third party designated by the individual (and it doesn’t matter who the third party is).” This implies the patient can request the records be sent to an attorney, the organization is limited now to abide by the new fee structure.
In short, the guidance will dramatically impair the quality of care in the current system, increase the costs associated with providing care, and undermine advances in technology, security, and patient access.
If you are an organization that currently utilize an ROI Vendor here is a scenario to consider.
In this scenario, the HIM Release of Information unit is staffed, managed and resourced by a third party vendor. Based on the ROI volume and needs, vendor is staffed with 9 FTEs, which includes a Supervisor, on site, and also provides corporate office support remotely for processing invoicing and other services as they pertain to the releases.
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