Patients may have to opt-out of Vt. HIE to not share data


Leaders of Vermont’s health information exchange are thinking of changing consent policies so that patients would have to opt-out of having data shared in the HIE; currently the approach is one that requires patients to opt-in to the exchange, according to an article in

The Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL), which operates Vermont’s HIE and warehouses the patient data, is rethinking the approach after hearing from physicians that the opt-in option is more cumbersome for both patients and providers, creating extra burdens to obtain the patient consent and to complete the forms. The current policy also reduces the flow and exchange of patient information, since about four percent of patients are choosing not to opt in.

Vermont’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has raised privacy concerns about the potential change, and prefers that the HIE retain the opt-in policy.

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“There is a greater likelihood of informed consent when people have to make a decision to ‘opt in,’ and the ‘opt out’ starts with a default that the person is in, and it requires no fault to have the person essentially enrolled in the system," Allen Gilbert, outgoing executive director of Vermont’s ACLU, said in the article. "We worry about the way the VITL system works even when someone does give consent because there’s no PIN number or code that’s needed to access someone’s records."

Using the opt out method may increase the number of patients participating in an HIE, but can create its own problems. Great Britain’s National Health Service ran into trouble last year for disregarding tens of thousands of requests by patients to opt out of its new centralized data base because the opt out would cause patients to miss out on some direct care services.

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