AMA launches new playbook to help providers with digital record sharing

AMA officials say the playbook aims to dispel some of the "myths and misconceptions from an array of complex federal and state laws surrounding patient electronic access to medical information."
By Mike Miliard
01:24 PM

The American Medical Association's new Patient Records Electronic Access Playbook aims to help physician practices more easily and efficiently share records with their patients.

WHY IT MATTERS
The online resource is meant to help providers understand some of the complex legal requirements and operational challenges access to digital health information, according to AMA, and to help them better integrate record-sharing into their daily practice.

The four-part playbook offers an array of educational information and resources – describing case scenarios and offering tips to ensure patients’ privacy is protected even as their right to access is preserved.

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AMA officials say the playbook aims to dispel some of the "myths and misconceptions from an array of complex federal and state laws surrounding patient electronic access to medical information."

It can serve as a guide to help physicians and practice managers understand requirements around data sharing, officials say, such as amounts and types of information to share; forms and formats for sharing records; patient requests and involvement of third parties; timing for record request fulfillment; denial of record request access; permissible charges, and confidentiality of substance use disorder records.

The playbook also offers a set of steps to make record request fulfillment clearer and more efficient, helping practices understand the capabilities of their electronic health record systems and promote greater use of patient portals and personal health records.

THE LARGER TREND
Recent reports have shown that few patients access their EHR data, despite widespread availability, and their right to do so under HIPAA.

"Policy efforts have failed to engage a large proportion of patients in the electronic use of their data or to bridge the 'digital divide' that accompanies health care disparities," according to Health Affairs.

For those that do make the effort, too often they're facing a wide array of obstacles to getting their own medical information.

Federal policymakers are pushing for more seamless patient access with their soon-to-be-released info blocking, interoperability and patient rules. 

And agencies are also starting to penalize providers who don't comply with HIPAA. This past September, in the first right of access case to be settled with the HHS Office for Civil Rights, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg paid $85,000 and agreed to a remediation plan after it failed to give an expectant mother timely access to her medical records.

ON THE RECORD
"As technology plays an increasingly important role in collecting and exchanging health data, the AMA believes that providing patients with improved information access and better information privacy are not mutually exclusive goals," said AMA Board Chair Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld in a statement.

"Patients deserve both, and the new playbook is an important example of the AMA’s commitment to ensuring patients can easily access their personal health information that has been entrusted to physicians," he said.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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