ONC: Looking for 'realistic' ways to account for disclosures

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Health industry stakeholders have taken advantage of the opportunity to revisit the proposed accounting for disclosure rule and weighed in on how the rule should be structured.

ONC's Health IT Policy Committee Tiger Team held a virtual hearing Sept. 30 to gather information about the rule and explore "realistic ways to provide patients with greater transparency about the uses and disclosures of their digitized, identifiable information," according to a Sept. 23 blog post by Committee Chair Devon McGraw. The Tiger Team asked for answers to specific questions, such as what patients want to know and how transparency technologies currently are being used by covered entities.

Deborah Peel, Founder and Chair of the Patient Privacy Rights coalition, suggested in her testimony that accounting for disclosures needs to include all of the detailed information about all uses of a patient's electronic health information; she added that the rule could be implemented by "piggybacking" onto existing initiatives, such as the Blue Button movement.

Others found such open access not feasible, according to an article on the hearing published by the Kansas Health Institute. Eric Cooper, a group lead for software development at EHR vendor Epic, testified that EHRs currently are not capable of performing all of the functions contemplated by the proposed rule. American Health Information Management Association CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, meanwhile, cautioned against access of disclosure reports that exceed the statutory language of the HITECH Act.

Patients, payer representatives, providers and vendor/business associate panels all testified during the five-hour hearing.

The proposed accounting for disclosures rule, which implements the provision in the HITECH Act extending the existing accounting of disclosures law when records were in electronic form, was issued in 2011. The rule created a furor within the industry, with many saying that it was overreaching and impracticable.

It is not known when a final rule will be forthcoming.

To learn more:
- access the hearing agenda and materials
- read the blog post
- here's the Kansas Health Institute article

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