AHIMA, the American Healthcare Information Management Association, has announced it has developed a model HIPAA release form that can be used by HIPAA-covered entities to streamline the processing of requests for copies of patients’ health information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule permits individuals to obtain copies of the health information held by their providers. Accessing this information allows patients to take a more active role in their own health, correct errors in their medical files, and share their full health histories with other healthcare providers.
OCR and ONC have previously launched initiatives to promote this right of HIPAA and explain how patients can obtain their health information. While understanding of this HIPAA right has improved, many patients face challenges obtaining their health information. Many covered entities are struggling with inefficient processes for managing those requests and providing patients with information.
Many patients have made requests and have been left in the dark, not understanding the process or why it takes so long to obtain a copy of their health data. Patients with multiple providers have additional problems. Each healthcare organization has its own HIPAA release form and many have not been written with the patient in mind. Obtaining copies of health data can therefore be confusing.
Many patients are unaware that they can request their health data in physical form or in an electronic version, but this is not explained on the HIPAA release forms used by some providers. Some of the HIPAA release forms in use are not HIPAA-compliant, leaving covered entities at risk of HIPAA violation penalties.
AHIMA interim CEO Pamela Lane explained that these issues can be resolved by using the new model HIPAA release form. Lane said “[The Model HIPAA Release form] will help connect patients with their health information and make them more empowered healthcare consumers.”
The form has been written in easy-to-understand language, simplifies the process of obtaining medical records and if adopted by covered entities, the model HIPAA release form will help to ensure they are in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
AHIMA explains that while the form is usable as is, it is easy for covered entities to alter elements of the form to match their own capabilities, such as the media on which PHI can be provided. The white-label form is also ready for customization with logos, branding and bar codes.
While the form is HIPAA-compliant, covered entities have been advised to familiarize themselves with 45 CFR 164.524(c)(3)
The AHIMA model HIPAA release form is available on this link.