Locally, Mass HIway enables the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, skilled nursing facilities and health plans.
Sounds simple right? Perhaps, but Phase Two of the MassHIway project raises privacy concerns.
Query and Retrieve
Phase One of the Mass HIway went live a few years ago. In Phase One, patients “opted in” to share their data with other health care facilities using the Mass Hiway. Phase Two is called “query and retrieve”. In this phase healthcare providers pull patient records from other healthcare organizations whose patients have “opted in” to the network.
Deciding how to approach the Phase Two query and retrieve process from a privacy perspective is complex—particularly for behavioral health patient information. Privacy professionals across the state were raising red flags and expressing concerns.
DS4P Team Assigned
It therefore was refreshing to hear Mass HIways’ latest news. The Data Segmentation team working under the guidance of ONC is establishing new technology policies to ensure that behavioral healthcare providers are able to participate in the exchange. The team working on this is the Data Segmentation for Privacy Initiative (DS4P). They have recently been piloting the standards in order to accomplish this goal.
What are your thoughts on this exciting development?
Questions to consider and answers to look forward to:
- Does your organization participate in the Mass HIWay?
- Do you think your organization’s participation in Mass HIWay (or another HIE) has resulted in more cost effective and higher –quality care?
- Are your physicians using the HIE?
- How do you tackle sharing information across state lines when the privacy laws are inconsistent?