HHS and VA Securely Share PHI

data exchangeThe Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veteran Affairs announced a demonstration of the standards for securely and responsibly sharing protected health information (PHI).  Using standards defined in the Data Segmentation for Privacy Initiative, the HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the VA were able to transmit treatment records for a fake test patient from one Electronic Health Records system to a different one, after receiving electronic verification that the test patient had given consent for the transmission.

Privacy metadata tagged in the treatment records from the SAMHSA EHR system told the VA’s EHR that information about substance abuse treatment contained in the clinical document was protected by federal confidentiality laws and could only be used for certain authorized purposes, and cannot be disclosed further without consent from the patient.  The transmission demonstrated how sensitive patient information can be tagged to let the receiving provider know that patient authorization is required to further disclose said information with other parties.

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