By Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser
In the session “OCR Enforcement Update” from Iliana Peters, the Senior Advisor for HIPAA Compliance and Enforcement at the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Peters states that additional guidance on the updated “Right to Access” information is forthcoming.
In February of 2016, Health and Human Services (HHS), in conjunction with the OCR, issued additional guidance on the “Right to Access” provisions under HIPAA. This guidance included methods of delivery and appropriate charges for patients requesting a copy of their health information for their personal use, or to be delivered to a third-party. At the last Health Care Compliance Association Compliance Institute in Las Vegas, Jocelyn Samuels, former OCR director, stated that part of the reason for the issuance of additional guidance was because a barrier to access to personal health information is the third most common complaint the OCR receives. In May of 2016, additional clarifications were issued on the guidance, indicating the formerly issued cost ceilings for issuing records were suggestions, not ultimatums, after the OCR received pushback from healthcare providers and professional organizations like AHIMA, frustrated that the cost ceilings would not cover the true costs of issuing the records to the patient.
At the 2017 Compliance Institute, an attendee asked Peters how to handle a situation when an attorney contacts the provider on behalf of the patient to produce records. The attendee states that attorneys have been “taking advantage” of the “Right to Access” guidance in an effort to receive the same cost-benefit a patient might for requesting a copy of their records, and the patient may not truly be aware of what is being delivered to a third-party. Peters indicated a suggested solution is to call the patient and see if they personally requested the records be delivered to their attorney, as well as what should be delivered, as nothing in the current “Right to Access” guidance prevents a provider from doing so. Additionally, she stated that more guidance was forthcoming to clarify the process and verification of a patient directing their health information to a third-party.HCCA CI - Guest Blog: Right to Access: Peters States Additional Guidance ForthcomingClick To Tweet