ONC unveils patient education videos on HIPAA rights

June 2, 2016

As part of the final day of the 2016 Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Annual Meeting taking place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., ONC today unveiled a series of consumer-oriented videos about the rights patients have to access their health information, as well as a Patient Engagement Playbook for Providers designed to help clinicians and office staff better engage patients through the use of health IT. This final day of the meeting is focused on empowering individuals to become better partners in their health and care.

“Many people are not fully aware of their right to access their own medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), including the right to access a copy when their health information is stored electronically,” said Lucia Savage, J.D., ONC’s chief privacy officer. “The videos we released today highlight the basics for individuals to get access to their electronic health information and direct it where they wish, including to third party applications.”

The videos released today were produced by ONC in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The videos highlight what an individual needs to know about their rights to access their health information. The first video describes the basics of the HIPAA access regulation, including what medical records are, when access is allowed, and when a provider may not share information, such as if a bill has not been paid. The second video takes a deeper dive into what incurred costs are acceptable and an expected wait time for copies of the records. The third video takes a look at the rights of individuals to ask that their information be shared with a third party, such as family members.

The Playbook is part of ONC’s effort to develop more user-friendly tools that can help clinicians and other providers in sharing health information with their patients. The Playbook outlines considerations for engaging patients with health IT, including best practices and case studies which clinicians and their office staff can utilize to enhance their efforts to use health IT to better engage their patients.

“We must engage individuals in order to advance the safe and secure flow of health information,” said Tom Mason, M.D., ONC’s chief medical officer. “The Playbook we’re releasing today provides clinicians with the resources they need to get the most out of their health IT and help patients put their electronic information to work to better manage their health.”

This first edition of the Playbook centers primarily on the use of patient portals and information to:

  • Facilitate easy enrollment to achieve greater portal adoption;
  • Meet patient needs online, while also streamlining practice workflow;
  • Involve caregivers in an appropriate way; and
  • Integrate patient-generated health data to improve clinical decision-making and care.

“The Patient Engagement Playbook for Providers will help clinicians and care teams make health information available and useful for their patients,” said Sherilyn Pruitt, director of ONC’s Office of Programs. “We hope that stakeholders—including patients, patient advocates, providers and others—share their input, feedback, and additional use cases that could be added to the Playbook in the future.”