Slideshow: Release of Information vs. “The Experts”

  • September 21,2017

Posted By on Sep 1, 2017

It’s a common perception among doctors and nurses that they are the worst patients when the tables have turned and they find themselves needing care. When you dig a little deeper to find out why this might be the case, a common thread starts to emerge—the feeling of vulnerability and loss of control, and also the fact that they know firsthand how healthcare works.

This phenomenon spans the healthcare continuum—with health information management (HIM) professionals often experiencing the same frustrations that patients do when requesting their medical records. Difference is, HIM professionals’ expertise in HIPAA can help them navigate the system and advocate for themselves.

In light of the release of AHIMA’s model Patient Request for Health Information Form, the Journal asked HIM and health IT experts about their own encounters with the release of information system. It probably won’t come as a surprise that the number of HIM credentials after a person’s name does not correlate to their success in getting the documentation they need. It’s clear that American providers and health IT developers have their work cut out for them in terms of improving health literacy and connecting all consumers with their data.

Even the people who know HIPAA best—from attorneys who helped draft the law to former government officials who helped enforce it—have trouble getting their health data from their providers. Here the Journal profiles the personal experiences of HIPAA experts who faced major hurdles in getting and using their health records.

Adam Greene, JD, partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, who specializes in HIPAA law and helped write the original HIPAA legislation in 1996

“I can tell you from personal experience I’ve been on the other side where I wanted to get an electronic copy of my records and it’s very difficult. Within the last month I reached out and tried to get my medical records delivered electronically to an app where I could best have it and be able to leverage it. And I was told by my former medical practice that they had a patient portal and that I needed to use the patient portal and HIPAA did not give me any right to receive my information in any other way. Now, that’s wrong. I could tell this person, she was an office administrator and very frazzled, and I could hear they couldn’t spend much time. And I wasn’t looking to ‘make a federal case out of it.’ I didn’t tell her that I was part of writing these HIPAA regulations and ‘you’re completely wrong.’ But I think having forms like this [AHIMA’s model form] out there and adopted will hopefully help make it easier for healthcare providers to understand what they need to do.”