1. HIE stands for "Health Information Exchange." An HIE allows medical records to be shared electronically between health care providers. HIEs rely on using networking technologies to enable your doctor to share records with another health care provider over the Internet, instead of, for example, sharing by fax. As a result, doctors participating in an HIE may have a much more complete picture of your medical history to work from, even if they have only had limited or even in some cases, no previous contact with you as a patient.

    The way this can work is as follows: you live in the city of San Diego proper, but your favorite Saturday get-away is a beach in Northern San Diego County. While up north one day, you go to an emergency room to get stitches after a mishap. The idea is that due to the exchange of records within San Diego’s HIE, the Northern San Diego County emergency room will have the ability to see your health files from your downtown San Diego physicians in a fast, frictionless manner. The goal of HIE is to enable any provider or physician to treat you from as complete a record as possible. This can happen in a variety of ways, and how it happens will depend on the structure and size of the HIE your records are in.

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  2. Why are Health Information Exchanges so different from healthcare providers exchanging patient medical files via fax? This video tackles that question.

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  3. A health care provider does not need your permission to share your medical information for treatment purposes within an HIE, just as a doctor does not need permission to send your records via fax to another doctor for treatment purposes. This is true even if your health record is going to a doctor you have never met before. The idea is that this information is shared only when necessary and only for treatment purposes. However, some HIEs, recognizing that HIEs involve many more patients and new methods of sharing, do give patients the ability to opt out of the HIE.

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  4. Medical identity theft happens when your identity is used for acquiring medical goods or services in another person's name. The problem is that when this occurs, your medical files reflects a record of health care services or goods that you didn't receive. If your imposter has a different medical condition than you do, then your medical file can contain errors. One of the potential challenges with exchanging your medical records in a health information exchange is that if medical identity theft happens, the erroneous file can be spread much further afield through the HIE. This video discusses steps you can take if this happens to you.

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  5. It's important to have a copy of all of your medical records. This gets more complicated when your doctor or hospital has exchanged records more broadly in a health information exchange. The general procedure for requesting a copy of your medical records that have been exchanged in an HIE will begin with getting a copy of your records from the original health care provider who treated you. There are many good reasons to have a current copy of your health file, and WPF encourages Californians and all patients to have a good baseline health file on hand. It can be a key tool in assisting with medical ID theft, among other benefits.

    To make a request for a copy of your health file, ask your health care provider for a copy of their privacy policy, also called a Notice of Privacy Practices or NPP. Each HIPAA- covered entity must provide a copy of its notice to anyone who asks for one. In addition, a copy should be available on the website of each covered entity (if the covered entity has a website).

    Follow the directions in the notice for making a request. You might be asked to write a letter or fill out a form in order to make your request. If your file is extensive, you may request just portions of it. The covered entity must act on a request for a copy of your records in 30 days, but it can extend the time limit for another 30 days if it provides a written explanation of the delay. For more information, see worldprivacyforum.org/category/health-information-exchange/ and Patients Guide to HIPAA: worldprivacyforum.org/category/patients-guide-to-hipaa/.

    If your health care provider also participates in an HIE, to get copies of your health files specifically from an HIE (assuming that your HIE retains records), you will need to follow the written process of getting a copy of your record. This process will be stated in the privacy policy, or Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) of either your provider or the HIE. In some cases, a request to your health care provider will be the only step you need to take. In others, you may also need to follow an additional process set by the HIE. The NPP will give you that information.

    Please note that even if your health care provider participates in an HIE, the HIE may or may not retain copies of your records. The operating models of HIEs can vary dramatically, with some HIEs keeping files, and others not.

    Remember:

    --Requests will need to be made in writing.
    --Some providers will allow you to request your records through a secure patient web portal for which you already have a user ID and password.
    --Providers have 30 to 60 days to supply your record.
    --There may be a small charge for records.
    --Some HIEs may require an extra step for a request.

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Learn about Health Information Exchanges

World Privacy Forum PRO

HIE stands for Health Information Exchange. An HIE allows medical records to be shared electronically. HIE relies on using networking technologies to enable your doctor to share records with another health care provider over the Internet, instead of by…


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HIE stands for Health Information Exchange. An HIE allows medical records to be shared electronically. HIE relies on using networking technologies to enable your doctor to share records with another health care provider over the Internet, instead of by fax. As a result, doctors participating in an HIE may have a much more complete picture of your medical history to work from, even if they have only had limited or even in some cases, no previous contact with you as a patient.

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