Thoughts on Improving Access to Personal Health Information

I just posted on my patient partnering blog a new post sharing an idea I heard recently on how to improve family access to health records, to the extent desired.  The full blog, very slightly modified, appears below.  If you think it is a good idea, please do share with your friends.  Lets make Collington even more of a center for spreading good ideas and innovations.

It is pretty much a common understanding that the well-intentioned HIPPAA privacy rules have sown much confusion.  In particular, as discussed here, they are as often used throughout the whole health care system as a shield against people and their families understanding what is going on — critical of course to true partnering —  rather than sword to ensure access to information.  Of course, read carefully the regs, even as currently drafted, actually provide a lot of flexibility to the holders of private health care information.

During a recent fascinating and creative HHS phone call to discuss ways to create useful and accessible online prescription records (of which more in a later blog), someone had a superb idea — to issue a model HIPPAA consent form that includes with the usual insurance company and provider list, language like “any and all family members,”  with, of course the option to check or not check it.

Of course, not everyone will want to check the whole family, and might want rather to list individuals who are to be given access, and that should be made possible with a space for such a list or appropriate general description.

Someone else then suggested that the use of such a form should be mandated by HHS.

What I now personally and routinely do is write that language in myself on the current form, drawing explicit attention to it to the professional staff, and suggesting that it will make their lives simpler, and encouraging them to put it in their standard form.  So far, one test only, a very positive response to the idea.

So here is an example of a thing we can do to change the culture by popular will, and of an improvement can ultimately be normalized by the system and government.

I would only add that any provider unhappy with such an approach would certainly face questions from me about their value system and philosophy.

P.S. I do encourage you to take a look at the new blog, link here.  While I will occasionally cross post, most of my posts on other personal blogs will not be copied to this Collington one.  Remember there is always a “subscribe” or “follow” box near the top of the right or left column of the blog. Enter your email, and you will get an email whenever something is posted to that blog.  Thanks to all for your encouragement.