ONC Releases Fact Sheet Clarifying Swap of Health Info for Public Health Actions

The U.S. Division of Health and Human Services’ ONC and OCR have circulated a new fact sheet clarifying a few of the situations under which the distribution of electrical healthcare info without patients’ written approval is allowed by HIPAA Laws.

The HIPAA Secrecy Law became effective in April 2003 and established new requirements to safeguard individuals’ PHIs. The HIPAA Secrecy Law sets conditions and limits on when PHI can be disclosed or used without prior approval from patients. For instance, the HIPAA Secrecy Law permits HIPAA-protected units (healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and BAs of protected units) to share the PHI of patients for cure objectives and healthcare jobs.

Health information may require being communicated between two healthcare suppliers engaged in the cure of a patient and PHI might have to be communicated between a healthcare supplier and a health plan for instance.

The ONC has earlier issued fact sheets clarifying HIPAA Laws about the distributing of health info for healthcare operations and for the purpose of treatment. The newest fact sheet includes the distributing of health info for community health actions.

The distributing of health info has been vital for controlling Ebola and checking Zika virus contagions and helping other public health activities like reacting to natural calamities and confronting main health disasters like lead poisoning.

HIPAA doesn’t allow healthcare companies to share complete medical accounts, in its place healthcare companies should restrict leak to the “minimum required” for a definite reason.

The fact sheet lists 9 different theoretical situations where health information might be distributed without the approval of patients. The situations pertain to all protected units, even though BAs of protected units are only allowed to disclose ePHI if they have been accredited to do so by a protected unit in their BAA.

The fact sheet includes:

  • Reportable Illnesses: Swapping ePHI with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Public Health Observation: Swapping patient files with health divisions to check cancer happening.
  • Public Health Investigations: Swap of ePHI with the Division of Health to check and probe disease occurrences.
  • Public Health Interferences: Swapping data with health divisions on lead poisoning.
  • Product Withdraws: Swapping information on patients concerning medical appliances that are under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority.
  • Medical Observation in the Place of work: Exchange of ePHI to assess work-related disease and damages.
  • Distributing data using Electronic health record technology

The Fact Sheet – Allowed Uses and Leaks: Swap for Public Health Activities – can be downloaded on this link.