Washington wants to know how HIPAA impacts LTC
Relaxed regulation may be the key to improved care
On December 12th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formally requested public input on how HIPAA is helping (or hurting) aspects of care coordination. Since two or more parties are oﬅen involved in the treatment of long-term care patients, this is a particularly relevant issue for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
While resident privacy and security remain top priority, those on the frontlines of healthcare understand the need for open communication and transparency among all care participants. Easing up on HIPAA privacy rules may encourage better collaboration among doctors, families, caretakers, insurance providers and the like.
Breach of burden?
Signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was designed to protect patients’ confidentiality while still allowing for information sharing in certain situations. For instance, when an individual poses a risk to themselves, threatens to harm others, or when a crime has been committed, the law permits healthcare workers to disclose names, medical records, payment history and other identifying characteristics.
In addition to protecting privacy, HIPAA also seeks to modernize information flow, which is increasingly critical in the digital age. Now that CMS is moving the industry toward a value-based model, lawmakers think it’s time to revisit some of the law’s antiquated components. Refashioning certain restrictive elements will help streamline care coordination and eliminate disclosure-related problems, like those pertaining to the opioid crisis and other contemporary scenarios.
“We are looking for candid feedback about how the existing HIPAA regulations are working in the real world and how we can improve them,” says Director Roger Severino of the Office of Civil Rights. “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.”
As per usual, SpecialtyRx is keeping close watch on the issue as it evolves through the end of 2018 and beyond. We hope this interesting HIPAA headline inspires administrators to consider their own approach to balancing coordination with compliance.