Panel Advances Behavioral Health Data Exchange Recommendations

June 11, 2014 in News

On Tuesday, the Health IT Policy Committee approved recommendations from its Privacy and Security Tiger Team that are aimed at safeguarding the privacy of behavioral health data included in electronic health records, Clinical Innovation Technology reports.

The recommendations would apply to Stage 3 of the meaningful use program. Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Background on Behavioral Health Data Rules

Currently, behavioral health information is classified as Part 2 data and is protected under federal statute. Specifically, behavioral health providers are required by law to obtain patient consent before sharing any data that identify the patient as someone who has been in treatment for substance use or who has a history of substance use.

Providers who have obtained consent to share the data also are required to inform the recipient that the information is restricted. The recipient then is required to obtain patient permission before sharing the data with anyone else.

Because of these restrictions, Part 2 data are not shared electronically with general health providers (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 6/10).

Tiger Team’s Recommendations

The Privacy and Security Tiger Team recommended that EHR systems used by behavioral health providers have the ability to tag documents containing sensitive behavioral health information. That information then would be transmitted in documents using the Consolidated Continuity of Care Document format and its “data segmentation for privacy” tagging format (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 6/10).

The functionality would apply to the voluntary certification program for behavioral health providers.

Deven McGraw, chair of the Privacy and Security Tiger Team, said the recommendations are voluntary “because we recognize a lot of providers might not be comfortable with a technical functionality that enables them to receive data that they then can’t fully utilize in their EHR.” She added, “Other providers believe that receiving in view only mode is better than nothing and voluntary criterion enables them to do that. It might even enable them to get some field experience with how much uptake and how well it’s working” (Clinical Innovation Technology, 6/10).

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