What is a health information exchange (HIE) network?
A health information exchange network allows clinical information to be shared between health care providers providing care for a patient. An HIE allows clinical information to move electronically between doctors, hospitals, and other providers' healthcare information systems while maintaining the privacy, security, and integrity of the information being exchanged. Instead of relying on the transmission of paper records about a patient’s condition – including lab results, past medical history, medications and other test results – healthcare providers in the LLHIE will be able to electronically send and receive that information over a secure, protected network.
Why is health information exchange important?
The LLHIE will help physicians and other healthcare professionals reduce the time they spend today searching, calling, and faxing for patient information by sending information directly to a physician's electronic health record or the clinic's computer system. Physicians and healthcare providers will receive laboratory and other reports and results more quickly, be able to transmit patient orders to hospitals and other healthcare providers, and communicate patient information electronically and securely between members of a patient's care team to provide more efficient care coordination. Better access to patient information improves clinical decision-making, helps reduce errors and delays in treatment, and reduces expenses for duplicate tests to provide better quality patient care more efficiently, effectively, and reliably.
What type of health information is being exchanged and who has access?
In general, only health information important for providing care is exchanged between authorized healthcare providers who have a relationship with the patient and have a need to know this information for providing treatment. Examples include, lab and pathology results, radiology and other transcribed reports, referrals, consultation reports, patient care summaries, including medications, allergies, problem lists, etc. Only providers who have entered into a legal contract (participation agreement) with LLHIE and agree to abide by its strict privacy and security policies and comply with relevant federal and state laws are allowed to exchange information about their patients.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules prohibits health care providers from sharing patient information for any purpose other than treatment, payment, and healthcare operations without special permission from the patient. The LLHIE electronically stores accounting histories and audit trails regarding where clinical data is sent and received for healthcare providers that participate in the LLHIE Network. This includes the identity, dates, and other information about authorized individuals who access patient information through LLHIE exchange software and provides additional layers of security to protect health information.
How much patient information can be shared with health information exchange?
State and federal law and LLHIE policies require healthcare providers to use the minimum amount of personal information possible and to ensure the right information about the right person goes to the right provider.
Can patients find out who exchanged health information about them through the LLHIE?
Yes. Patients receive a notice of privacy practices upon a first visit to a provider or inpatient or outpatient admission to a hospital and periodically thereafter. As specified by HIPAA, these notices describe how protected health information is to be collected, used, and transmitted for the purposes of treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. Illinois law and HIPAA provide additional protections for sensitive information, such as mental health information, and may require written patient authorization prior to sharing information. Patients have the right to request a list of who accesses their information from their healthcare providers.
What if patients don't want providers to their health information? Can they elect not to have their information shared through the LLHIE?
Healthcare providers participating in the LLHIE will notify patients of their participation at the next appointment or time of registration. At this time, the LLHIE does not have a community-wide patient record. Should one be established in the future, patients will be able to "opt out" of having information shared in a community-wide patient record so that their information is not searchable. Healthcare providers may still use the LLHIE Network to issue electronic orders for lab tests, prescriptions, and other directed healthcare services, and may also receive lab results, discharge summaries, referrals, consultation notes, and other information sent directly through them through the network. This service is no different than providers using the mail or fax machines to send and receive this information and provides a higher level of security with electronic audit trails.
How is LLHIE ensuring the security of patient information when it is being transferred or exchanged?
Personal health information is protected by encrypted state-of-the-art systems employing many security measures, including administrative, physician, and technical safeguards, against such risks as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, inappropriate use, modification, or disclosure. All systems including healthcare provider electronic health records and the LLHIE Network must comply with the security provisions of HIPAA and other privacy and security laws.
Can patients request changes to their health record or other information sent through the LLHIE Network?
Yes, patients can request revisions and corrections to their health records by talking with the healthcare provider who is the owner/creator of the record in question. LLHIE does not alter patient health information in any way. The LLHIE Network simply provides a method to privately and securely transport health information from one provider to another.
When will the exchange be fully implemented?
Participating organizations are currently developing connections from their electronic systems to the LLHIE Network and will begin exchanging clinical information through the LLHIE Network over time. The LLHIE Network will add healthcare providers, including hospitals, physicians and other practitioners, independent laboratory and imaging facilities, skilled nursing facilities, home health, outpatient services, and other healthcare and community providers to the network on an ongoing basis.
How can I obtain a copy of my medical record?
To obtain a copy of your medical record, please contact your doctor or healthcare provider directly. The LLHIE is not a healthcare provider and does not have access to your medical record.
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