OP-ED | Patient rights and privacy are top priority for CT’s new health information exchange

(Photo provided)
Jennifer Searls, MHA
JENNIFER SEARLS

It was every adult child’s worst nightmare – a hectic ride to the emergency room with mom that got worse by the minute. For Brenda Shipley, the stress was just beginning.

Upon arrival, staff asked Brenda for a list of her mother’s medications. She did not have one, but assumed they could see her mother’s medication list in their electronic medical record (EMR) since her mother’s primary care physician’s office was in the doctor’s office building on the doorstep. hospital campus. Unfortunately, they did not share the same DME. The lack of information was felt just as acutely by the hospital staff, who could only count on Brenda passing on her mother’s medical history and medication list. In the end, the emergency department staff did what they did best: Brenda’s mother was treated and recovered, but the episode made a strong impression.

Connie, Connecticut’s new health information exchange was developed to ensure that our residents and providers no longer find themselves in a situation similar to that of Brenda and the hospital care team. An HIE is a secure and confidential way to share health information electronically between physician offices, hospitals, laboratories, radiology centers, and other healthcare organizations.

On Monday, May 3, 2021, the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy and Connie officially announced the start of operations.

A health information exchange (HEI) in itself is not a new concept. Since the earliest days of medicine, healthcare providers have needed to share critical health information with others involved in the care and treatment of their patients by any means available, whether in conversation. one-on-one, phone calls, mail or fax.

Much like Brenda’s case, important clinical information is not automatically transferred from one provider’s office to another. A closer reality is that patients with multiple chronic diseases carry boxes of their charts from one doctor to another. These types of experiences can lead to patient safety issues, poor quality of care, and higher healthcare costs.

Fortunately for everyone involved, technology has evolved dramatically over the past decade. EMRs (electronic medical records) are used by most hospitals and physicians to store, retrieve and analyze patients’ medical information to better inform their care decisions. Even though EMRs offer many advantages over paper medical records, there is still a need to transport EMR information from one physician to another providing care to a shared patient. HIEs are the safe and secure way to do this; they are highly effective, while enforcing safeguards for patient privacy and confidentiality in the form of legally binding confidentiality agreements backed by federal privacy laws and rules.

Connecticut is not alone in the use of a HIE, and 45 other States have followed the path the State is now following and are seeing notable improvements in the delivery of care through the implementation of information exchanges on health, including:

  1. Improve the quality and safety of patient care by reducing medication errors and medical errors
  2. Increase efficiency by eliminating unnecessary paperwork
  3. Provide caregivers with tools for more effective care and treatment
  4. Elimination of redundant or unnecessary tests
  5. Improve public health reporting and surveillance
  6. Reduce health-related costs

However, despite these benefits, concerns have been expressed about privacy, security of medical data, inappropriate access and sale of medical information to insurers or other parties: the good news is that Connie’s first priority is patient rights and privacy and many of these concerns are addressed by HIPAA and Connie’s advanced security measures to maintain the privacy and security of patient health data.

The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996 to protect patients from abuse and misuse of healthcare while improving the amount of waste and fraud in the healthcare system. he received many updates since its promulgation to match the advancement of technology including: privacy rule, security rule, breach notification rule and omnibus final rule. Failure to comply with HIPAA law, such as disseminating medical information about patients without their consent or seeking medical information about patients for personal reasons, would result in pursuit for violating the terms of use of a system.

Additionally, Connie’s security measures include consistent system checks, state-of-the-art monitoring tools, and next-generation auditing capabilities. If a patient changes their mind after opting out of Connie, they can easily re-enroll and start sharing their information to reap the benefits of a HIE.

We have planned a number of public information and communication events to tell you more about the exciting developments with Connie. We hope you take the time to learn more about how Connie, in partnership with doctors, hospitals, state health officials, and others, are working hard to improve health and good. – be Connecticut residents!

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Jennifer Searls, MHA, is the executive director of Connie, the state-wide health information clearinghouse (HIE) of CT.

The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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