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Frequently Asked Questions

Patients FAQs

What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)?  Electronic Health Information Exchange, or “HIE,” is the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards. It allows clinical information to quickly move between the different healthcare information systems that may be used by a patients’ different providers (e.g., specialists, labs) while maintaining the privacy, security, and accuracy of the information being exchanged.

How does HIE improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare?  Connecting clinical providers through a secure, electronic, confidential health information system will help ensure that providers have access to the right information at the right time.

Access by authorized providers to past clinical information about patients will enable physicians and other clinicians to provide better care, reduce duplicate tests and improve patient safety, among other things. Ultimately, patients should receive higher quality care.

Is etHIN an HIE?  etHIN is a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO), which is a health information organization that brings together healthcare stakeholders within a defined geographic area and governs health information exchange among them for the purpose of improving healthcare in that community. People sometimes refer to a RHIO as an HIE.

What’s the benefit to me and my family?  Your physicians and other healthcare providers who participate in the health information exchange could have access to more up-to-date information available to them without having to make phone calls and wait for faxes. Allergy and medication information shared by your providers can help your entire care team work together to have a better overall understanding of your health. They may also be able to view your lab work and recent test results without having to call and wait for results. Having access to more timely information can help your doctors make the best diagnoses and provide you with the best treatment possible.

What information is available through etHIN?  Participating healthcare providers can view the following types of information on patients that they have a relationship with:

Lab reports
Medication history
Radiology reports and images
Hospital discharge summaries
Transcribed reports
Pathology reports

What about sensitive data like HIV or mental health information? etHIN does not exchange behavioral health or sensitive information. etHIN participants are required to refrain from submitting sensitive information to etHIN (e.g, psychotherapy notes, substance abuse treatment information, HIV data, etc.)

Who can see my information?  Only people involved in your care will have access to your health information. This means doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers who participate in etHIN and have a treatment, payment, or healthcare operations relationship with you may see your information. There are strict legal guidelines that limit who may access your patient information. All access to health records is monitored and audited by etHIN to ensure patient privacy.

How can I find out who has viewed my records in etHIN? You may request an audit of your records at any time by contacting one of your healthcare providers who participates with etHIN. View a complete list of the current participants.

Because etHIN is contracted with healthcare providers to furnish health information exchange services for them, we cannot provide information directly to a patient. For that reason, your audit report will be sent to your provider who will deliver it to you. The audit will allow you to see if your medical records were accessed and if so, by which healthcare provider.

Can I access my or my family’s medical records through etHIN?  etHIN provides access to patient medical records to treating healthcare providers only. If you need copies of medical records or test results for you or your family, you should request them from your physician’s office.

Who is participating in etHIN?  Many of the hospitals in etHIN’s Community of Care are participating. Future participants include physicians’ practices, pharmacies, major independent laboratories, and radiology practices. We are also working to coordinate information from home healthcare services and long-term care facilities. Additional participants are being added on a regular basis. View a complete list of the current participants.

How is my personal health information protected?  etHIN uses state-of-the-art systems to protect your health information against such risks as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, inappropriate use, modification, or disclosure. Unlike a paper chart, every access of your medical information through etHIN by any authorized user is logged electronically and is audited. All systems, including provider EHRs and etHIN’s network, must comply with the security provisions of federal and state laws such as HIPAA. For added assurance, the etHIN system is subjected to regular third-party security audits. Protection of your personal health information is of the utmost concern at etHIN.

Does this cost me anything?  The cost of the healthcare exchange is carried by etHIN’s stakeholders and participating providers. The nationwide directive for creating Health Information Exchanges was included in the HITECH section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). etHIN was incorporated in 2005, well before ARRA came to pass. Health information exchange has long been recognized as a need by members of etHIN’s Community of Care and as being the right thing to do for patients. It is why etHIN was created.

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