Understanding Individuals’ Right under HIPAA to Access their Health Information
Unfortunately, based on recent studies and our own enforcement experience, far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This must change.
Today, we took an important step toward ensuring that individuals can take advantage of their HIPAA right of access. We released a fact sheet and the first in a series of topical Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to further clarify individuals’ core right under HIPAA to access and obtain a copy of their health information. This set of FAQs addresses the scope of information covered by HIPAA’s access right, the very limited exceptions to this right, the form and format in which information is provided to individuals, the requirement to provide access to individuals in a timely manner, and the intersection of HIPAA’s right of access with the requirements for patient access under the HITECH Act’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program.
We will continue to develop additional guidance and other tools as necessary to ensure that individuals understand and can exercise their right to access their health information. In addition, the Office for Civil Rights will work with the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to produce consumer-friendly resources, including sample communications tools to encourage patients to access their digital health information.
The first set of materials may be found on OCR’s website at: