Patient privacy

The federal government wants to know whether patient-privacy rules are keeping nursing homes and other providers from better coordination with each other.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a formal request for information Wednesday, asking healthcare stakeholders for feedback on easing privacy restrictions. Officials are especially interested in how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could be modified to advance federal goals of promoting more coordinated, value-based care, according to an announcement.  

This request is part of HHS’ “Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care,” which is being led by Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. He hopes they’ll get a “close look at how regulations like HIPAA can be fine-tuned to incentivize care coordination and improve patient care, while ensuring that we fulfill HIPAA’s promise to protect privacy and security.”

“We are looking for candid feedback about how the existing HIPAA regulations are working in the real world and how we can improve them,” added Roger Severino, director of the Office of Civil Rights.

Provider groups, such as the American Hospital Association, have argued that patient privacy laws have prevented them from sharing info with nursing homes to deliver more value-based care. In a survey of hospital tech leaders released earlier this year, only about 60% of those polled said their electronic health records incorporate info from SNFs.

Public comments are due by Feb. 11, 2019.