HSS seeks public input on improving HIPAA rules

Patient Health Records folder with Confidential and HIPAA stamps
Patient Health Records folder with Confidential and HIPAA stamps

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Dec. 12 released a request for information (RFI) focusing on improving care coordination. The RFI includes 54 questions on topics including patient access to health information, information sharing with social service agencies and expanding data clearinghouses’ access to patient health.  Also included in the RFI are questions related to the “accounting for disclosures” rule.

Director of the Office of Civil Rights Roger Severino stated in a HHS press release, “We are looking for candid feedback about how the existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations are working in the real world and how we can improve them. We are committed to pursuing the changes needed to improve quality of care and eliminate undue burdens on covered entities while maintaining robust privacy and security protections for individuals’ health information.”

The need for the updates to the HIPAA rules are becoming increasingly more evident as coordinated care has become a standard for taking care of people.

The RFI also seeks comments on specific areas of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, including:

  • Encouraging information-sharing for treatment and care coordination.
  • Facilitating parental involvement in care.
  • Addressing the opioid crisis and serious mental illness.
  • Accounting for disclosures of Protected Health Information (PHI) for treatment, payment, and health care operations as required by the Health Information Technology for Economic & Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
  • Changing the current requirement for certain providers to make a good faith effort to obtain an acknowledgment of receipt of the Notice of Privacy Practices.

Public comments on the RFI are due Feb. 12.  The RFI can be downloaded from the Federal Register here.