Quality Care

HIMSS Endorses New Government Confidentiality Rule for Substance Abuse Patients; Seeks More Patient Care

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HIMSS issued its support for the increased patient confidentiality outlined in a new rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) proposed the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Patient Records, which aims to increase care coordination and confidentiality for patients with substance use disorders. HIMSS in its Jan. 31, 2023, letter endorsed the efforts of OCR and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) for beginning to harmonize Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and 42 C.F.R. Part 2. The move will enhance patient care coordination and patients can consent to providers to release SUD treatment information.

The key points of the HIMSS response:

  1. HIMSS endorses the effort to align HIPAA and Part 2 privacy requirements. HIMSS encourages further alignment to facilitate appropriate patient data exchange while continuing to protect patient privacy.
  2. HIMSS notes that infrastructure gaps create barriers to appropriate exchange of information, with behavioral health/SUD being one of those sectors “left behind” from Meaningful Use. HIMSS recommends that HHS continue to work to address those infrastructure gaps and ensure that certified EHR technology has the functionality to meet accounting disclosures tracking requirements.
  3. HIMSS encourages HHS to use the same definition of “use and disclosure” for Part 2 records and HIPAA covered entities, and address any other variations that could cause data segmentation issues.
  4. HIMSS recommends HHS set a maximum cost for patients to receive an accounting of disclosures, as the proposed vague language could present a cost barrier to patients seeking the stated information.

HIMSS is pleased to see more alignment of privacy compliance requirements for health information care coordination. HIMSS also commends the movement toward addressing behavioral health issues that will ensure the health and wellness of all communities. HIMSS looks forward to continued dialogue with the Department of Health and Human Services on these topics.

HIMSS Public Policy and Advocacy

The HIMSS policy team works closely with the U.S. Congress, federal decision makers, state legislatures and governments, and other organizations to recommend policy, and legislative and regulatory solutions to improve health through information and technology.

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