HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is about to begin reviewing comments on its proposed changes that would make it easier to share information about patients in federally funded alcohol or drug abuse treatment programs.
Comments are due April 11.
The regulations, last updated almost three decades ago, were designed to protect the information of people receiving drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and so reduce one of the barriers to seeking care. But health information exchanges, accountable care organizations and clinically integrated networks believe that the regulations need to be modernized to meet the goals of care coordination.
HHS agreed more flexible rules are needed to make it easier to develop electronic infrastructure as well as measure performance and quality improvement.
The proposed rules would allow patients to consent to information-sharing within a broader context. For instance, they could provide consent to sharing data with a specific hospital rather than a number of specific clinicians. Or they could consent to sharing with an HIE and “my treating providers.”
The new rules also would give providers more discretion to determine whether something is a “medical emergency” for the purposes of sharing information, allow electronic signatures on consent forms and loosen restrictions on disclosures for research purposes, among other things.