Maine's HIE stays with the opt-out consent model

By Molly Merrill
04:28 PM

The opt-in legislation for Maine’s health information exchange was met with “clear opposition” by providers throughout the state, but a revised version that is pending the governor’s approval would make it a mandate that providers who are participating in the HIE provide their patients with a separate form to opt-out.

Amy Landry, communications manager, at HealthInfoNet, Maine’s health information exchange, wants to clear the air when it comes to the legislation. She said that some reports have “made it sound like we [HealthInfoNet] suddenly chose an opt-out model. We were already an opt-out and have always been operating as an opt-out, “she says.

[See also: Maine Civil Liberties Union, state senator seek HIE opt-in law.]

“After the public hearing, it was apparent that there was not strong support for HealthInfoNet to go to an opt-in model from an opt-out one,” Landry added.

She said what came out of this response was more awareness. “Patients need to have an informed choice,” she said. The next step was to ensure that through legislation.

The Maine Civil Liberties Union, HealthInfoNet and other stakeholders, including the Maine Medical Association and Maine Hospital Association, proposed revised legislation that would require providers participating in the HIE, upon initial contact with the patient, to  provide a separate form that describes the HIE and its benefits and risks and how to opt-out.

[See also: In Maine, statewide HIE makes case against opt-in bill.]

“That is essentially what we provide, but up until now we have encouraged [providers] to hand it out, but there has been no mandate to,” Landry said.

“At the end of the day we are happy with the outcome,” she adds. “We want to ensure that patients are informed. We have always said that we want to make it easy for patients to opt-out. We had the same goals in mind. The legislation further enhances the exchange and gives it more value."

“After only two years of operation, HealthInfoNet is already viewed as one of the most successful health information exchanges in the country and these two pieces of legislation will further strengthen its value for patients and healthcare providers,” said Devore Culver, CEO, HealthInfoNet. HealthInfoNet was built on a foundation of trust and collaboration. The protections for both patients and providers contained in these two bills are very important and will lead to further trust in the exchange.”

[See also: Maine REC gives glimpse into what providers can expect.]

In talking with other exchanges Landry added that she realized just how “out-in-front” Maine’s HIE was. “There are very few exchanges that are operational," she said. "That is why this legislation has shown up in Maine, but I don’t think it will be the last time you will see this."

Click on the next page for highlights of the proposed bill.