Manage Your Health Affairs. Simply

By Elaine Blechman, CEO of Prosocial Applications and Professor Emerita U. of Colorado

Your right to your health

Healthtech for Consumers

Manage Health Services Anywhere Anytime In 2020, most U.S. adults (57%) accessed financial services via laptop or PC, yet few (16%) used internet or email to communicate with healthcare providers even though Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers  expanded telehealth coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bits of patient health information are locked away in the record silos of healthcare providers and health insurance plans. Lifelong patient data about health status, health care services, and health plan reimbursements are beyond patients’ reach. Why? The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established electronic data interchange (EDI) standards for HIPAA-covered entities such as doctors, dentists, hospitals, and insurance plans so they could exchange business information about patient services.

HIPAA Record Access Rights HIPAA gave patients the right to access such information from the records of providers and plans, but no tools for direct patient electronic information exchange with HIPAA entities. Perhaps, because in 1996 only 4% of the U.S. population went online for information about the presidential election. Now that 87% of the U.S. population are active online, consumers are ready for healthtech tools to manage their health affairs online, like the fintech tools they widely use to manage their money online.

Learn how the RK360® Cloud Health Record App helps patients connect with providers for personalized, cost-effective telehealth and onsite visits.

Exercising Record Access Rights

HIPAA Privacy The 2004 HIPAA Privacy Rule limited how HIPAA-covered entities could use and disclose  individually identifiable, protected health information (PHI), granting patients the legal enforceable right to inspect and/or obtain a copy of their PHI, as well as to direct a covered entity to transmit a copy to a designated person or entity. Upon request by individuals or by their personal representatives and caregivers, a covered entity must return the PHI that is in so-called designated record sets maintained by or for the covered entity including: medical billing and payment records; insurance information; clinical laboratory test results; medical images, such as X-rays; wellness and disease management program files; clinical case notes; and other information used to make decisions about individuals.

Accessing Personalized Health Information Providers who maintain individually identifiable, protected health information (PHI), such as lab results and imaging studies, in electronic health record systems (EHRs) can give PHI access to patients through online patient portals. A fraction of U.S. patients, who receive all or most of their care from one integrated care organization, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or Kaiser Permanente, can access all their records from one portal and find portals useful enough to visit them frequently. But most patients, who receive care from many providers and must collect their records from many portals, rarely bother to use those portals. Patients are also deterred from exercising their health record rights by providers who are unaware of patient rights, charge excessive record access fees, and deliver inaccurate and incomplete information via insecure fax machines.

Anti-Data Blocking APIs The 2016 21st Century Cures Act recognized the widespread “information blocking” problem and provided for up to $1M in penalties for each incident “likely to interfere with, prevent, or materially discourage access, exchange, or use of electronic health information.” The 2020 Cures Act Final Rule required developers of certified electronic health record systems (EHRs), by November 2020, to implement application programming interfaces (APIs) enabling patients’ smartphone access without record access fees to all structured and unstructured electronic health information or PHI in each of their providers’ EHRs. Instead of manually downloading PHI from each provider’s EHR patient portal, patients could use a smartphone app to authorize continuous download of their health data from all their providers’ EHR-connected APIs. Concerns about the safe transport of PHI from the EHR of a HIPAA-covered entity to a consumer app, led to postponement of the API compliance date to December 2022 just when patient-managed health information exchange could revolutionize evidence-based COVID-19 critical and emergency care, treatment, and long-haul survivor care.

Learn how the RK360® Cloud Health Record App implements the 21st Century Cures anti-data blocking spirit and its API technical workflow so you simply exercise your record access rights, overcome data blocking, and capture and own health data now locked up in providers’ EHRs. Don’t hold your breath until January 2023 for all your providers to invest in API-connected EHRs. Subscribe to RK360® Cloud Health Records for yourself and your family now.

We recognize and appreciate the risks of COVID-19 to healthcare workers and their families and their knowledge of what healthtech users need. If you are a healthcare worker with an individual or organizational National Provider Identifier (NPI), subscribe to no-cost beta test RK360® Cloud Health Records for yourself and your family. Beta-testers retain their no-cost annual RK360® subscriptions, valued at $120, as long as they frequently use their RK360® Records.

Elaine Blechman is CEO of Prosocial Applications and Professor Emerita U. of Colorado.

The information in this blog should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. You should contact your physician or other health professional for advice concerning a particular condition or concern.

Connecting Patients to Providers through Personalized Health Information