I sincerely hope that everyone on this planet has read and imbibed Deven’s post Empowering Patients: Know your rights!
Her valuable HIPAA lesson will help you fully understand your rights as a patient to better navigate the roadblocks that often stand between you and your health data. Even with this information the road is often difficult, but that shouldn’t come as any great surprise to anyone who has been following our posts for some months now.
Because of the difficulties patients often face when requesting their records, some patients will seek help from others. As an example, Ciitizen is the designated third-party of choice for a number of cancer patients looking to collect, organize, and share their health information in an easy to use format. By law, any HIPAA-covered entity has the right to reach out directly to any of these patients in order to verify the validity of that third-party request. Yet, even with our understanding of patients’ rights under HIPAA, we still face hurdles on a daily basis.
Despite our knowledge and experience, we have stood helplessly by as medical institutions have ignored patient requests and questioned our validity as a third party recipient. Instead, they send stacks of paper records directly to the patients themselves (or worse, require a fatigued cancer patient to physically drive to the records department to pick them up in person), claiming that personal health information can only be shared with the patient directly.
Shocked? Well don’t be.
It’s easy to underestimate just how compelling and convincing a story you may hear from a medical records representative as to why your records cannot be sent to a third party (or why they may not be sent electronically, or why you may be required, by law, to show up in person to retrieve your records!) Trust us: we’ve seen it happen time and again. And let us not forget that patients who are dealing with a major health diagnosis simply don’t have the time, energy or inclination to spare on arguing with records department staff.
Sometimes it’s because our patients are simply too nice. “She just seemed a little irritated that I didn’t understand that they would be sending the records to my home address and not uploading them. I didn’t want to argue, as I’m definitely not the type of person to get anyone in trouble,” stated one of our current patient users after her encounter with a records official.
Knowledge is power, however; and having the power to navigate these records department interactions with confidence, clarity, and certainty is what we want for all patients requesting their records, including when they want them sent directly to a designated third-party of choice. It’s vital that you know your HIPAA rights to ensure that you get your records in the form and format you requested, within a legal timeframe, and with as little effort as humanly possible.
That’s the mission. That’s the goal. And at Ciitizen we are here to support you EVERY step of the way.