Posted on: December 21, 2017

The rules that cover health information exchanges (HIEs), such as Hixny, and how they release medical information for minor patients have changed.

As a healthcare provider, you should know how the new policy governs consent for minors so that you can provide them with the best possible care and comply with the new rules.

In the past, when a parent signed a consent to grant access to their child’s medical records, that consent ended on their child’s 10th birthday. From the age of 10 until the child turned 18, access to their child’s medical data was blocked to all providers except during emergency situations. New guidelines have recently been implemented that can provide you with access to a minor’s medical records when you need them.

Here are answers to some of the questions you may have about the new policy:

Q. What is different about the new policy covering consent for patients who are minors?
A. Under the new policy, when a parent signs a consent form for their minor child at your practice, that consent grants you access to the child’s medical records until their 18th birthday. After that, the patient must sign his or her own consent form so that you can continue to access their medical information through Hixny.

Q. What parts of the new policy are the same?
A. As in the past, parents will still need to sign a consent form for every healthcare provider who treats their minor children. Authorized providers, such as emergency room physicians, will still be able to “break the glass” and access a minor’s healthcare information in a medical emergency.

Q. Does the new consent policy allow access to all medical records for minor patients?
A. No. Guidelines from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) say that records for substance abuse and mental health cannot be shared without the specific permission from the patient. If a minor patient elects to share their information they would need to complete a “Request to Share Your Substance Abuse and Mental Health Information” form.

Q. Are there any other restrictions to the type of medical information I can see?
A. Yes. Parental consent does not allow you or other providers to look at medical records for treatment for minor consent services—in other words, services that minors can obtain without their parents’ consent if the minor has elected to block that data. They include medical services related to treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, pregnancy and pregnancy services, sexual assault, family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, and outpatient mental health treatment and counseling.

Q. How will the new rules affect my practice and workflow?
A. The new policy means that you will now be able to see healthcare information through Hixny for all your patients after patients or their parents sign the appropriate consents. You will no longer be blocked from seeing medical information for patients between the ages of 10 and 18.

The new policy balances the benefits of sharing a minor’s medical records through a health information exchange such as Hixny, with requirements to protect substance abuse and mental health records, as well as records for minor consent services. This policy will give providers access to more comprehensive medical records for your patients between the ages of 10 and 18 years.

Hixny will be performing extended maintenance beginning Thursday, December 31 through Friday, January 1. During this time, all services
will be impacted and unavailable—including access to the provider portal.