National Pilot Program Launched to Advance Protected Health Information, PHI

Program to Focus on PHI in Electronic Request for Medical Records

National Pilot Program Launched to Advance Protected Health Information (PHI)

The Standards and Interoperability (S&I) Framework was launched to work with healthcare stakeholders in establishing standards and specs to facilitate the exchange of health information. The framework plays a critical role in providing a place and process for advancing interoperablity. Now, two Texas groups, the Health Information Technology (Health IT) Program at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and Jericho Systems Corporation, will work together on a national pilot program recently approved by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The focus of the program will be to address  how patients can better control the release of their Protected Health Information (PHI) when their medical records are requested electronically from their healthcare provider.

The new pilot progam will involve the exchange of simulated EHR data between large healthcare providers using Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) Information Technology standards. The pilot will simulate the exchange through the eHealth Exchange (formerlly the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange). The simulated exchange will be augmented by adding a centralized repository where virtual patients can specify conditions under which their PHI can be electronically shared. The pilot also will explore how requests for a patient’s PHI can be reported back to the patient so the patient is alerted of who is asking for their medical information.

Each access request over the simulated exchange will be decided in real time based on computable policy that includes privacy metadata. Patient consent directives (PCD) will be included in the evaluation of the access request. The pilot program will explore three aspects of this exchange:

  • How is the PCD correlated with the patient identity
  • How is the PCD retrieved for use in the access control decision
  • How is the consumer informed of the request and access control decision

Currently, the process for electronic requests submitted remotely on the eHealth Exchange is not an easy one. The pilot program hopes to add transparency to the PHI exchange process by reporting each time that PHI has been released by the consumer’s provider organization to requesting organizations.

Learn more about the Pilot Program here.