etHIN’s Perspective on Patient Opt Outs, Requests for Data, and Changes to Medical Records
Tennessee residents are automatically opted in for sharing their medical data among healthcare providers as permitted under HIPAA. Patients have the right to ‘opt out’ or not allow sharing of their protected health information among their healthcare providers, including providers who participate in East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN). The patient also has the right to opt back in for medical records sharing at any time. This is addressed extensively in etHIN’s Participating Provider Policies, which must be adhered to by all providers using the etHIN network. etHIN’s Participating Provider Policies state that if a patient wishes to opt out, they must make their request directly to their healthcare providers. etHIN does not manage patient consent nor does it have the capability to verify an individual’s identity.
From time to time, patients contact etHIN to make an opt out request, to request changes to their medical records, or to ask for an audit of providers who have viewed their medical records. In all instances, etHIN refers the patient back to their provider. etHIN does not ask the patient for specific information nor does etHIN try to verify that the patient is under the care of an etHIN provider participant when such a request is received.
etHIN will always refer the patient directly to their provider in the following scenarios:
- Opt Out Request: It is the etHIN Participant’s responsibility to manage patient consent and not send ‘opted out’ patient data to etHIN. The opt out process begins when the patient notifies their providers of their request. The opt out request is active when the patient completes their provider’s Opt Out process. Records submitted to etHIN prior to a patient’s opt out date are not removed from etHIN since the opt out was not in effect during the time the records were submitted. Opting out with one provider does not mean the patient has opted out with all of their providers. The patient must opt out with each of their providers individually.
- Audit of Medical Record Lookups: A patient has a right to know who has viewed their medical records in etHIN. If a patient contacts etHIN asking for this information, they are referred to their providers. Upon request, etHIN will work directly with its participating providers to provide the necessary information to support the provider in fulfilling the request.
- Request for a Copy of Medical Records: etHIN does not provide a patient portal or other similar services directly to patients or consumers. Patients who contact etHIN requesting a copy of their medical records are referred to their provider to fulfill this request. etHIN will assist its participating providers when requested.
- Request for Changes in Medical Records: As an HIE, etHIN does not alter, change, or remove patient data received from its participating providers. Patients must contact their providers directly to request changes or alterations to their records. When requested by the participant provider, etHIN will work with the provider to confirm that any submitted record changes are reflected in etHIN.
If you are an etHIN Participant and have questions about etHIN’s role pertaining to your patients, please contact us at Info@ethin.org.
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