Read carefully and sign often
See if this seems familiar to you. You go to see your primary care physician and are asked to sign a consent form that gives the doctor permission to look at your complete medical record on the health information exchange (HIE) operated by Hixny.
Your doctor sends you to see a specialist. When you get to the specialist’s office, the staff there asks you to sign the same consent form. The specialist recommends an outpatient procedure, so two weeks later you go to a hospital to have it done. When you arrive, the person at the registration desks hands you a Hixny consent form and asks you to sign it.
At this point, you may be wondering why you must sign a Hixny consent form at every healthcare provider you see. Why can’t a single consent form cover everyone you see for medical care?
It may appear that a universal form would be a simple and easy solution. But the fact is that signing consent forms for every healthcare provider you see gives you more control over who can and cannot see your medical information.
What is a Health Information Exchange?
HIEs are organizations that compile medical information about patients who have been treated at participating providers. They make that information easily and securely accessible so that everyone involved in your care can access your complete medical history. Hixny is an HIE that covers the Capital District, northern New York and the Mohawk Valley.
All HIEs require your consent before they can share your medical information. But HIEs in different states use different consent models. Some states use an opt-out model that automatically assumes you give consent unless you specifically state that you do not.
Other states use a community-wide consent model, in which users sign a single consent form that gives the HIE permission to share your information with every provider in the state. The consent-to-share model is similar but requires that the HIE get your consent before it can begin to collect your medical information. The HIE can then share your information with every provider in the state.
New York Uses the Consent-to-Access Model
Hixny and other HIEs in New York state use a fourth consent model, called consent-to-access.
With this model, patients must sign a consent form for every provider they see for medical care.
With the consent-to-access model, you’ll have to sign a consent form for every provider organization you see for medical care. But in return, you get more control over who can and cannot see your healthcare records. Access to your records is restricted only to the providers specifically involved in your medical care—and you decide which of your doctors can view your records and which do not.
The type of consent model used by HIEs is set by individual states. As a consumer, you do not have a choice in the type of consent you can use. However, you should be aware of the type of model your state uses so you know exactly what access you are granting and how your private information will be protected.