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Proposed Legislation Will Give Medical Record Clearinghouses Ability to Share Data with Patients

December 21, 2017
by Heather Landi
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Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) has introduced a bill, the Ensuring Patient Access to Healthcare Records Act, that gives medical record clearinghouses, such as Experian and Availity, the ability to share health data and analysis to patients, provider organizations, public health agencies and drug companies.

According to a press release from Rep. McMorris Rodgers, the bill , H.R. 4613, “gives medical records clearinghouses the ability to provide patients with their own comprehensive healthcare records and allows them to analyze claims data for the good of public health.”

Each year, healthcare clearinghouses process hundreds of millions of transactions safely and securely from more than 5,000 hospitals, 900,000 doctors, 66,000 pharmacies and 20,000 labs across the country. These records include information about the provider, the diagnosis, and the treatment for each episode of care. Today, clearinghouses have the capability to link this data and build longitudinal health records to provide patients with a comprehensive health record, according to McMorris Rodgers’ press release.

However, clearinghouses are currently unable to share data widely with patients and other stakeholders due to the administration’s rules implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

The bill specifically states that the legislation would “allow the use of claims, eligibility, and payment data to produce reports, analyses, and presentations to benefit Medicare, and other similar health insurance programs, entities, researchers, and health care providers, to help develop cost saving approaches, standards, and reference materials and to support medical care and improved payment models.”

“Even in the age of technology, it can be difficult for patients to obtain their comprehensive health records. Whether it’s because of a move to a new state, switching providers, an unexpected visit to the emergency room, or a new doctor, patients must track down their own records from numerous different sources based on what they can or cannot remember,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement. “It shouldn’t be this burdensome. Our bill gives patients the ability to see a snapshot of their health records at just a simple request, allowing them to make better, more informed healthcare decisions in a timely manner.”

The legislators who introduced the bill say that clearinghouses can also analyze this data to provide real-world solutions to address important public policy goals through tracking patient outcomes and broad-based analysis of readmissions, comorbidities, and adverse outcomes across the entire continuum of service providers; near real-time tracking of significant disease outbreaks or epidemics; and improving and allowing for greater access to new drugs and therapies.

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