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Shelley Starkey

HHS Updates HIPAA Guidance, Highlights Responses to Opioid Epidemic

December 21, 2017 | Addictions | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments
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On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled out a bundle of new resources and initiatives that aim to address the ongoing opioid crisis. These new tools and initiatives are part of an obligation under the 21st Century Cures Act to ensure that the public understands the implications of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The rollout includes the following resources and new programs:

  • Two new webpages on HIPAA as it applies to mental and behavioral health. OCR aims to make existing resources more user-friendly and accessible with these webpages. The webpages include guidance in the form of fact sheets, infographics, decision charts, and scenarios on sharing mental health and substance use disorder treatment records with other providers and those involved in patients’ care.
  • Launch of a working group to report on how protected health information is shared for research purposes under HIPAA. Members of the working group will include patients, representatives from relevant federal agencies, researchers, providers, and health care privacy, security, and technology experts.
  • Updated guidance on how HIPAA functions in relation to research. Visit the updated webpage here.
  • A new collaboration within HHS departments to develop better training models and materials for providers, patients, and families regarding the use and disclosure of mental health and substance use disorder treatment records.

Roger Severino, Director of OCR, said “HHS is using every tool at its disposal to help communities devastated by opioids including educating families and doctors on how they can share information to help save the lives of loved ones.”