HHS proposed changes to rules on exchange of alcohol, drug abuse patient records

Proposed changes to rules on confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records would facilitate the exchange of information while ensuring privacy is protected.

Health and Human Service Department Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced the proposed changes to the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations on Friday. They will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.

"This proposal will help patients with substance use disorders fully participate and benefit from a health care delivery system that's better, smarter and healthier, while protecting their privacy," Burwell said in the announcement.

The rules were last updated in 1987, and since then the ways in which healthcare data is exchanged, and the amount that is shared, have changed immensely. With the proposed changes, HHS wants patients to able to participate in new care models, built on performance measurement and improvement of care quality, without fear of privacy violations.

The agency seeks public comment on the proposed rule, which are due by April 11.

To learn more:
- read the announcement