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Medical Coding News Archives

HHS Would Allow Patients to View PHI Access Under Privacy Rule

June 7, 2011:

Deborah C. Hall, Clinical/Technical Editor

People will be able to obtain a report on who has electronically accessed their protected health information (PHI) if a proposed rule published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is finalized.

Under the rule, patients would be able to request an access report documenting who has electronically accessed and viewed their PHI. Currently, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security rule requires covered entities to monitor who has access to electronic PHI for auditing and tracking purposes but does not mandate that they provide reports to patients. Under these new guidelines, electronic uses of PHI for treatment and payment would be included in these access reports. Excluded from the public reporting mandate would be uses of the information in law enforcement and in averting a threat to health or safety.

According to OCR Director Georgina Verdugo, “This proposed rule represents an important step in our continued efforts to promote accountability across the health care system, ensuring that providers properly safeguard private health information. We need to protect people’s rights so that they know how their health information has been used or disclosed.”

The proposed rule may be obtained at: http://www.federalregister.gov/. Comments will be accepted through August 1, 2011.


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