HHS sends EHR disclosures rule to OMB

The Department of Health and Human Services is getting closer to finishing its work on defining what providers will be responsible for when patients ask for disclosures in their electronic health records (EHRs). HHS has submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget the proposed final rule for the accounting of disclosures of EHRs.

Under current HIPAA provisions, providers are restricted in disclosing information pertaining to treatment, payments, or healthcare operations. However, the HITECH Act, part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, called for the extension of patients' rights to ask for this data--including disclosures made during the previous three years--when it involved EHRs.

However, some provider groups--such as the Medical Group Management Association--have said the proposed provisions will pose burdensome requirements, reports Health Data Management.

During a public comment period in 2010, MGMA said that since many physician practices store data in different locations, fulfilling disclosure requests would require an onerous amount of manual data collection from multiple data sources: Many physician practices store their clinical data in EHRs and their administrative data--including payment information and data that would qualify as 'healthcare operations'--in their practice management systems, it said.

The OMB review is one of the final steps before a rule is published in the Federal Register. The OMB review process will takes generally between one and 90 days.

For more information:
- see the announcement about the proposed final rule
- read the Heatlh Data Management article