AHIMA has published this Special Update regarding release of patient health information during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AHIMA developed these recommendations to help health information management professionals safeguard the integrity of their health systems’ quality control practices and help patients comply with increasingly widespread shelter-in-place orders.
Release of information services (ROI) must comply with a strict set of processes set forth by HIPAA and HITECH’s regulations to ensure that patients retain safe and secure control of their personal health information and record requests are timely, appropriate, and complete.
HIM professionals with questions or comments can publish them at the bottom of this post, or visit the COVID-19 community page on AHIMA Engage.
Temporarily Suspend Walk-in Access for Medical Records Inquiries
- Work closely with your ROI vendor (if applicable) to ensure continuity
- Display signage on doors and windows to redirect patients and families to alternative resources
- Post record request changes to the organization’s web page and any automated messaging systems
- Communicate changes to processes with Patient Access staff
Provide Patients and Families with Record Request Options
- Phone authorization validation by HIM staff who witnesses and documents it in the record (if access is authorized)
- Phone messages are directed to phone or patient portal
- Provide instructions to obtain and complete authorization form
Validating Identity by Phone:
- Ask the patient for the following demographics to verify:
- Date of birth
- Home address
- Last four of their Social Security number or other reliable demographic data elements that have been collected, such as a cell phone number, nickname, etc.
- Consider moving patient portal support to 24/7. If additional support staff are needed, evaluate training ramp-up with your information technology team.
- Ensure record request advice is provided in different languages per your patient population
- Educate providers and staff on the importance of the health information exchange (if applicable) and integration these technologies into the ROI workflow