What is health information exchange?
- Health information exchange (HIE) is a method to make patient health information available electronically for doctors, hospitals and other care providers and stakeholders when needed.
- An HIE network allows healthcare information to be securely shared between participating entities involved in a patient’s care subject to strict privacy and security procedures.
- HIE allows information to move in near real-time between the different healthcare information technology (IT) systems that may be used by a patient's different providers (e.g., doctors, specialists, labs) while maintaining the privacy, security and accuracy of the information being exchanged.
What are the benefits of HIE?
Healthcare clinicians have always been able to provide better care when they have more complete information on their patients. More complete patient information and better coordinated care is more important than ever today where payment is often based on value and outcomes rather than the amount or type of services delivered.
The transition of patient information into Electronic Health Records (EHRs) allowed these systems to be connected through health information exchange (HIE), facilitating automated, machine-to-machine information exchange that provides information to clinicians when they need it. CORHIO provides several critical services that support more complete longitudinal patient records and more comprehensive and coordinated care. A list of CORHIO’s Service is available here.
Participating in the CORHIO HIE also:
- Saves time: physicians and other qualified health professionals have access to patient information compiled from across different computer systems quickly. This means less time searching, calling and faxing for information, which reduces treatment delays for patients and allows care providers to spend more time with patients.
- Improves care: with consistent information, physicians and other providers will get results and reports in one simplified format. Additionally, the patient's information will be more complete, which reduces errors and improves treatment recommendations.
- Reduces cost: with more streamlined and comprehensive information, there is less chance for mistakes and ordering duplicate tests. This reduces patients' out-of-pocket costs for unnecessary medications, radiology tests, lab tests and hospitalizations.
Who has access to patient information in the CORHIO HIE?
- Only entities who enter into a contract with CORHIO, agree to abide by CORHIO’s strict privacy and security policies, are legally permitted to use or disclose individually identifiable health information, and comply with applicable federal and state laws are allowed to access patient information in the HIE. A list of participating providers and entities is available here.
- State and Federal law, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended (HIPAA) and its implementing regulations, prohibits healthcare providers from sharing your personal health information for any purpose other than treatment, payment, and healthcare operations without special permission from you to do so. Strict adherence to applicable state and federal privacy law is a cornerstone of CORHIO’s governance structure and contractual requirements.
Will I be notified if my provider participates in the HIE?
Yes. If your healthcare provider is participating in the HIE, they are required to notify you of their participation at your next appointment or at the time of registration with their practice. At that time, or anytime thereafter, you have the choice to opt out of having your information shared through the HIE, as described further below.
Note: not all healthcare providers participate in the CORHIO HIE. If your providers are not participating in HIE, then health information generated by them in the course of your care is not available in the HIE. Please see our list or participating providers to look for your provider.
What if I don't want my providers to have access to my health information in the HIE? Can I opt-out?
Yes. Patients have the right to opt-out of having their information queried and viewed in the HIE. Should you choose to do so, CORHIO is committed to honoring your choice to opt out of the system and will ensure your information is not searchable in the HIE even in the event of an emergency. For more information on how to opt-out of the CORHIO HIE, please visit https://www.corhio.org/for-patients/your-choices
Although your information will not be searchable if you opt out, your healthcare provider may still use the CORHIO network to send or receive electronic orders for lab tests, lab results, x-rays, prescriptions, and other directed healthcare services for your care.
How is CORHIO protecting the privacy and ensuring the security of my health information when it is being transferred or exchanged?
Protecting the privacy and security of the healthcare information that flows through the CORHIO HIE is CORHIIO’s highest priority. Individually identifiable information flowing through the CORHIO HIE is protected by state-of-the-art systems with administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to prevent loss or unauthorized access, destruction, inappropriate use, modification, or disclosure. Authorized users of the CORHIO systems must comply with applicable law, including the security provisions of HIPAA, and with CORHIO’s contract and policy requirements. For added assurance, the CORHIO system is subjected to regular third-party security audits. Learn more about CORHIO’s HIE Privacy and Security Controls.
CORHIO also collaborates with communities and stakeholders to implement secure systems and processes for sharing clinical information. CORHIO’s policies to protect the privacy and security of personal health information are developed and maintained by a statewide policy committee consisting of diverse representatives from across the Colorado healthcare community. Changes to CORHIO’s governing policies requires a vote of the CORHIO Board of Directors.
How do I get access to my own medical records?
Federal laws, including HIPAA, give you the right to access your own health information, unless an exception to the individual right of access applies. Because CORHIO does not have a direct relationship with individuals whose Data is accessible through the HIE, CORHIO must rely on its participants to manage relationships and disclosures of patient information, including information available in the CORHIO System, to Patients. Patients who contact CORHIO requesting access to their healthcare information will be referred to one or more of the Participants where they receive care. Due to legal, technical, and administrative limitations, the CORHIO System does not currently support alternative means by which Patients may access their Data through the HIE, such as through an individual access portal or other automated means.
How does CORHIO handle unauthorized requests for access to my health information? Are there any penalties for those who misuse or inappropriately disclose my information?
- Considering the highly sensitive nature of patient health information, CORHIO maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding inappropriate use of the system. Authorized users who violate CORHIO Policies, as identified through reporting, audit, or other processes, will be sanctioned appropriately, may have their access terminated by CORHIO, and will be referred for appropriate disciplinary action within their own organizations.
- Additionally, those found in violation of HIPAA can face civil and/or criminal penalties, including fines and/or imprisonment. They can also face civil penalties for HIPAA violations including fines. You may obtain more information about HIPAA penalties on the website for the Department for Health and Human Services.
Does CORHIO share my health information with employers?
No. Additionally, the HIPAA Privacy Rule absolutely prohibits healthcare providers and insurance plans from disclosing personal health information to employers without a patient's explicit, written authorization.
Can I request changes to my health record or other information included in the HIE?
Yes, you can request revisions and corrections to your health records by talking with your healthcare provider who is the owner/creator of the record in question. CORHIO cannot and does not alter your health information when it moves through the HIE Systems; the HIE simply provides a method to privately and securely transport health information from one provider to another.
Is some of my most sensitive health information provided extra protection?
Yes. Certain kinds of health information, including mental health notes, substance use and genetic testing, are subject to additional legal protections. All healthcare providers participating in CORHIO are required to comply with the privacy laws and CORHIO policies that apply special protections to this important and sensitive health information. For example, information about substance abuse treatment has special protection under federal law (called the “Part 2 regulations” because the regulations are found at 42 C.F.R. Part 2). Information covered by the Part 2 regulations is not currently available in the CORHIO HIE.