Health Information Exchange (HIE) – FAQs

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What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)?

An electronic health information exchange (HIE) allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically—improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care. The sharing organizations combine to form an HIE network. The goal of HIE is to provide safer and more timely patient care. The term HIE encompasses two related concepts:
  • The electronic sharing of health-related information among organizations
  • An organization that provides services to enable the electronic sharing of health-related information

What information is “exchanged”?

At a minimum, lists of your ongoing health conditions, medications, and allergies are shared with other participating network providers. Your lab and procedure results and doctor’s notes can be exchanged with some HIE participants, but not with all.

Is some of my most sensitive health information provided extra protection?

Yes. Certain kinds of health information, including any clinical notes from psychiatry clinics or psychiatry hospitalizations, are automatically restricted or blocked from sharing. This material requires your written authorization for it to be shared through the health information exchange.

Why is Health Information Exchange important?

HIE helps improve the quality of patient care and reduces costs.
  • HIE improves care: By getting information from outside sources, your health care providers can get a more complete picture of your medical history and have it all in one place, reducing the likelihood of conflicting diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment plans.
  • HIE saves time: Your health care providers can get your information quickly. This means less time searching, calling, and faxing your information. You may also avoid unnecessary return visits because your provider may have near-immediate access to medical information necessary for your care.
  • HIE reduces cost: By having access to all of your medical records, your health care provider may not need to order tests or procedures that you have already had completed at another health care provider.
  • If you see multiple doctors who participate in the HIE, they will be able to see a more complete picture of your health, and make more informed treatment decisions. The goal is for you to receive coordinated care more efficiently.

Who can request my personal health information from “outside” health care organizations?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) prohibits health care providers from sharing your personal health information for most purposes other than treatment, payment, or health care operations without first obtaining special written authorization from you to do so. As a result, only participating HIE organizations that require your personal health information for purposes of treatment, or for verifying public or private insurance coverage, can request your information.

How does UC San Diego Health ensure the privacy and security of my health information — especially when it is being transferred or exchanged?

Your health information is protected by state-of-the-art systems that use many security measures. All systems must comply with the privacy and security provisions of HIPAA and similar state laws that may apply.

Which HIE networks is UC San Diego Health connected with to share my clinical information?

UC San Diego Health is connected to two health information exchange (HIE) networks: Care Everywhere and San Diego Connect HIE.

  • Through Care Everywhere, UC San Diego Health can exchange your clinical information with other outside health care organizations providing care for the same patient and who use Care Everywhere (an electronic medical record system by Epic).
  • Through the San Diego Connect HIE, UC San Diego Health can exchange information with many participating outside hospitals, doctor’s offices, other HIE participants, as well as public health authorities.
  • The list of possible “partners” keeps growing, and it is built into the system that your UC San Diego Health provider uses. If your non-UC San Diego Health provider has an electronic record, ask if HIE is possible.
  • It’s important for you to tell your health care provider if you have medical records in another outside facility. Once this is known, your record can be requested (dependent upon exchange capabilities with the outside facility).

    If I do not want my health information exchanged electronically, how do I opt out of the HIE networks UC San Diego Health connects with for the Health Information Exchange?

    You may refuse to allow your information to be exchanged in any of UC San Diego Health’s HIE networks (that is, “opt out”) at any time. You may do this by downloading the “opt out” form or by contacting the UC San Diego Health - Health Information Management office. If you opt out, your information will not be electronically exchanged with other participants through the HIE, but it may be sent to them by other means such as fax or mail if requested by your health care provider. If you choose to opt out of HIE, this will not affect your access to care at UC San Diego Health in any way.

    Can I opt out of one exchange and still participate in another exchange, or share one type of health information (lab results) but not another (ongoing conditions list)?

    At this time, if you decide to opt out of exchanging your information because of concern about a particular type of information or provider, none of your information will be shared through a UC San Diego Health HIE network. In other words, opting out is an “all or nothing” concept and you cannot choose particular providers or types of information for electronic exchange and reject others. For example, if you opt out of HIE because you object to the sharing of your ongoing conditions list, neither your ongoing conditions list nor any other type of protected health information will be available for electronic exchange with any other HIE participant.

    If I opt out of UC San Diego Health’s HIE networks, does that mean I have opted out of all outside HIE networks?

    No. Completion of UC San Diego Health’s opt out form does not opt you out of other health information exchanges in which UC San Diego Health providers are not participants. If you wish to opt out of another HIE network, you are responsible for arranging that according to the rules of that network. By opting out of UC San Diego Health’s HIE networks, your health information will not be electronically shared by UC San Diego Health with outside organizations requesting this information through the HIE. But it may be sent to outside health care providers or organizations by other means such as fax or mail, if requested by your health care provider.

    Does Opting Out of the Health Information Exchange (HIE) impact my care at UC San Diego Health?

    No. Your choice to opt-out of the health information exchange will not affect your ability to access medical care. Opting-out will not prevent your caregivers from sharing your health information with authorized entities when necessary for public health or research purposes that are permitted or required by state and federal law. In cases of medical emergency, your doctor may request to view your health record to diagnose or treat your emergency medical condition and UC San Diego Health HIE will make your records available under such circumstances and will audit these requests. Please allow up to two business days for processing your opt out request.