Criteria for Amending EHRs OK'dWould Be Included in EHR Incentive Program
The HIPAA Privacy Rule already requires healthcare organizations to accommodate patient requests for corrections or amendments to their records. But the Privacy and Security Tiger Team, which advises the HIT Policy Committee, made recommendations designed to make sure that EHRs have the technical capability to carry out this mandate, as well as accommodate changes that providers request, such as when they notice errors, says Deven McGraw, co-chair. She's director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology.
The tiger team's recommendations, approved by the HIT Policy Committee last week, included:
- Software criteria for stage two of the EHR incentive program should include a requirement that the applications support making changes/amendments to health information. EHRs should make it technically possible "to make amendments to a patient's health information in a way that is consistent with the entity's obligations with respect to the legal medical record (i.e., there should be the ability to access/review the original data and to identify any changes to it.)" EHRs also should be able to "append information from the patient and any rebuttal from the entity regarding disputed data."
- Criteria for stage three of the incentive program should include a requirement that EHRs have the ability to "transmit amendments, updates or appended information to other providers to whom the data in question has been previously transmitted."
Criteria in the WorksThe HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee are working on the guidelines for future stages of the EHR incentive program, which ultimately must be approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. A proposed rule for Stage 2 criteria is anticipated in January 2012.
The tiger team issued a four-page report on the amendment issue. Earlier, the tiger team decided not to advocate any new policy dictating when providers must report corrections of records to others. "Existing ethical and legal obligations were sufficient to motivate [providers] to use appropriate professional judgment regarding when to inform any known or potential recipients of amendments to health data," according to the team's report.
Also at the HIT Policy Committee meeting, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., who heads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, voiced his strong support for the committee's earlier recommendation to change the deadline for qualifying for Stage 2 of the EHR incentive program to 2014, rather than 2013, for providers who attest to compliance for Stage 1 in 2011.