CCHIT finds new relevance in EMR consent management

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology seems to be adapting quite nicely to life after its EMR testing monopoly--and earning praise from an unlikely source. ZDNet Healthcare commentator Dana Blankenhorn, a longtime critic of CCHIT who believed the organization was set up by established vendors to ward off new competition, now says the commission is leading the way on consent management.

CCHIT's newest certification program for EMRs specific to behavioral health may finally assure that EMRs give patients the kind of granular control over their own health records that HIPAA so far hasn't been able to provide. "As patients we've all gotten HIPAA forms to sign. They say the doctor won't give our our personal data without our consent. And each time he or she wants to send records along (this is an especially big issue in psychiatry) we have to sign another form," Blankenhorn explains.

"The intent of the law was to make this more nuanced. The idea was that these consents could be managed and audited, not just to protect from lawsuits but to give patients more control over their records.

"Government officials disagree over where the border should be, insurers are confused, and the aim of meaningful exchange of information (as opposed to just meaningful use) is being lost."

Certification of EMRs for behavioral health, according to Blankenhorn, could push vendors to build the necessary fine levels of control into their products. "For too long HIPAA has been used as an excuse by doctors and hospitals to do nothing. Behavioral health certification may break this logjam," Blankenhorn writes.

For further details:
- read Blankenhorn's commentary at the ZDNet Healthcare blog