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Amendments to HIPAA, CLIA enable deeper sharing of patient lab results

An update to the CLIA gives all patients access to their lab results to further patient involvement in care.

Patients must be given direct access to their lab data, according to a final rule amending HIPAA and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. The rule,  announced by HHS, reinforced that in most cases, patients will be given access to their lab data within 30 days of testing, as is the case under the current HIPAA Privacy Rule.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated the ruling is intended to improve patient involvement in care by enabling the sharing of patient lab results.Several states require labs provide access to lab results directly to patients, while other states prohibit the sharing of that information. However, the new rule will supercede all current state laws.

For more information on recent developments in lab data access:

Lab data exchange driving IT expansion

Lab data complicates meaningful use reporting

Self-service perks guiding patient engagement

This ruling makes it critical for providers to go over lab data with their patients to confirm there is no confusion about what has been reported. Lab results can be misread by patients who do not have the medical training to interpret the information -- a concern that  has been noted by The American Clinical Laboratory Assocation.

Sharing patient lab data through websites or mobile apps is a current method employed by laboratories.  Some of these apps are LabCorp Beacon or Gazelle from Quest Diagnostics. These both offer lab results, personal health information and more.

The information gap between patients and their caregivers is shrinking as more hospitals, primary care physicians, and labs are communicating health information directly to their patients. This allows more patients to work with their information and increases their familiarity with the electronic tools neccessary to view the information. It's clear that vendors are ready to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the changing federal mandates. However, only time will tell if the majority of patients will adopt these new methods of interaction.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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