Thursday, October 15, 2009

Change The Rules and Get Your Labs

On Tuesday, the Health IT Policy Committee at ONC is holding a hearing regarding CLIA laws and access by consumers to their own test results. We have a unique chance to speak with one, resounding voice that the federal barriers to patient access to test results should be removed. Dr. Phil Marshall of WebMD will be testifying at the hearing, and he will be presenting the linked consensus letter that provides background on the issue, recommends two common sense ways the federal laws can be changed to allow greater access, and the benefits of making those changes. This letter has been vetted by some of the top health data experts and health data privacy lawyers. Here is a summary of the letter and what we’re asking you to do:

ISSUE: Federal regulations under the HIPAA Privacy Rule treat test results as a special case, separate from other protected health information. CMS has issued regulations that further state that results can only be delivered to “Authorized Persons”, which as it is currently defined does not include the patient who is the subject of the test.

PROPOSED CHANGE: We propose simply eliminating the special treatment of test result data, and have it be treated under HIPAA just like other protected health information. We also propose that Authorized Persons explicitly include the patient (upon request by the patient)

BENEFITS: While these changes do not address the state laws in a small number of states that further restrict access to test results, they remove substantial federal barriers to data access. It is unlikely to cause any harm because, under HIPAA, providers and labs generally would have up to 30 days to respond to the patient’s request, providing them great flexibility in how and when they deliver the test results. Also, because so many clinically significant test results (approximately 7%) are never reported to the patient, increased access can help ensure that test results aren’t lost to the ether . Third, because approximately 14% of labs and other tests are repeated because prior results aren’t available, making test results more available to consumers can help reduce this duplication and related costs. Finally, the explosion in health management applications and services that could make use of test results have the potential to help consumers better manage their health, make more informed health decisions, and help lower costs.

STEP 1: Send email to by close of business Monday with the following information:

Your name and, if you choose, your organization & your stance on this letter:
- I support the letter and wish to be listed as a co-signer
- I support the letter but do not want to be listed
- I don’t support the letter, and why
- I wish to be removed from any further bothersome emails about health data rights.

STEP 2: Blog about this issue. Include stories, data and stats. Let’s generate some real energy around making this change! You can also comment on the new healthdatarights blog

And please help us to know additional actions that you feel might be appropriate for to undertake.

Initial signers:
Dr. Phil Marshall, WebMD
Dr. Daniel Sands, Harvard Medical School
Jamie Heywood, PatientsLikeMe
Dr. David Kibbe, The Kibbe Group, LLC
Nate McLemore, Microsoft
Adam Bosworth, Keas
Dave deBronkart, E-patients
Dr. Roni Zeiger, Google
Colin Evans, Dossia
…....and YOU

[email ] to join.

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