Rocky Roads: Patient Right of Access/ Compliant and Patient Centered ROI

By Amy L. Derlink, RHIA, CHA

With the OCR issued FAQs on patient HIPAA rights to access PHI being out now for over a year, I know many of you are feeling more confident than ever on how to handle these pesky third party requestors who demand records under the HITECH Act.  Or perhaps you are just as challenged as the rest of us?  The FAQs clarified that individuals (patients according to HIPAA definition) have a right to access their PHI or request that it be provided to a third party at a cost-based fee for labor and supplies associated with producing the copy whether on paper or in electronic format but for some reason third party requesters still demand that this provision applies to them.  

We must really dissect the FAQs and educate ourselves to better handle these requesters and explain the difference between a patient request “directing” us to release their records and a third party representing the patient with a signed patient authorization.  A patient directive is different than an authorization and has been discussed since 2003 when HIPAA went into effect however its relevance has become more important now that attorneys can utilize it to save costs with gaining access to PHI.  

The road of patient right of access for HIM professionals continues to get rockier when we must calculate our costs associated with producing PHI.  Many of us face the challenges of decentralized ROI in a hybrid environment.  If you attended my presentation at the MaHIMA Fall Meeting, your knowledge and expertise in handling these challenges will assist you in staying the driver’s seat and ensuring a smooth ride moving forward.