Friday, August 17, 2007

"Sharing" of data is not new

Here is new clip on "data sharing " between doctors and hospitals occurring in the Rochester Health Information Organization.

Once again, it makes it sound like "sharing data" between doctors and hospitals is somehow a new concept, as if though doctors order tests on their patients at the local hospital without expecting to get back the results. This "sharing" of data is going on now and will need to go on in order to provide patient care.

In fact, data sharing also occurs between physicians and pharmacies. Are physicians expected to get written permission from patients before faxing or calling in their patent's prescriptions? How about ePrescribing. Are physicians expected to get their patient's written permission for sending in medications refill request via the ePrescribing network?

The truth is, all this data sharing is already happening between doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other healthcare entities under existing HIPAA guidelines for data sharing by covered entities “for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations” The HIPAA law was modified to allow sharing of patient data for the purpose of providing patient care ( "treatment and healthcare operations").

When the HIPAA laws were originally implemented, it became almost impossible for a physician to get clinical data on their patients from the hospital unless the patient signed a "HIPAA" consent. A common scenario was that of a patient calling their doctor's office to get results of the xray that was just done. When the physician would call the hospital in order to get the results, they would be told by the hospital that a signed patient consent needed to be faxed before the results could be sent to the doctor. As a physician, we would have to claim that our patient was "dying" before any result would be faxed to us. Because of situations like these, the law had to be modified to allow the flow of information when issue of patient care were involved.

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