Health IT Pulse

Nov 21 2011   12:57PM GMT

Will expanding patient access to lab results overburden hospitals?

Beastwood Profile: Beastwood

patient data security
patient engagement

A proposed rule that would provide for direct patient access to lab results has drawn the ire of two key professional organizations.

The proposed rule, released Sept. 12, would modify HIPAA and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988 in order to lift rules preventing patients from obtaining their test results without the consent of their health care provider. On the recommendation of the Health IT Policy Committee, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wrote the rule largely as a way to foment health information exchange.

Both the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) appreciate the law’s intentions but state in separate letters to HHS that lifting restrictions on patient access to lab results would be costly. In addition, FierceHealthIT notes, the organizations fret about operational challenges, patient authentication and the lack of distinction between raw data and the interpretation of that data.

The organizations’ concerns are not unfounded. HHS estimates that, if enacted, the proposed rule would bring with it $2 million to $10 million in one-time compliance costs. For hospitals struggling to meet ICD-10 implementation and meaningful use attestation deadlines, providing patient access to lab results, while certainly a worthwhile and necessary endeavor, very well may be the financial straw to break the camel’s back.

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