Tiger Team Hears Testimonies on 'Accounting for Disclosures' Policy

On Monday, the Health IT Policy Committee's Privacy and Security Tiger Team held a hearing on how to provide patients with information about who has accessed their health care data, Kansas Health Institute News reports.

Background on 'Accounting for Disclosures' Policy

HHS must craft an "accounting for disclosures" policy, as mandated by the HITECH Act (Cauthon, Kansas Health Institute News, 9/30).

The HITECH Act says that patients' rights under the HIPAA Privacy Rule to an "accounting" of disclosures include those for "treatment, payment and operations" when they are made through electronic health records (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 9/27).

Details of Tiger Team Hearing

Various stakeholders testified during the online meeting including:

  • Doctors;
  • Insurance companies;
  • Patient advocates; and
  • Technology companies.

Deborah Peel, the head of Patient Privacy Rights, recommended that regulators require health IT developers to provide open access to logs that record every instance a patient's digital health information is accessed or shared over a network.

However, speakers representing doctors, insurers and software developers said such a policy is not feasible.

They argued that individual investigations would be preferable to automated, routine access because:

  • Patients do not seem interested in patient portals; and
  • Readily accessible comprehensive reporting would be an administrative burden.

Eric Cooper of EHR software company Epic said, "It is extremely important to understand the volume of information that would be included." He added, "A typical patient visit will produce between 500 and 1,000 auditable events in the provider's clinical system."

Peel countered, "I can promise you if we get the data -- even if it's not humanly readable -- an industry will develop to translate that data into meaningful ways we can understand, and use it for ourselves."

The committee is scheduled to meet again Oct. 9. However, the meeting could be delayed as part of the federal government shutdown since it is considered a "non-essential" government activity (Kansas Health Institute News, 9/30).


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