Video: What does “opt in” or “opt out” mean in a health information exchange?

This video is part 8 of a 14-part video series on health privacy and health information exchanges 

Video: I just read the privacy policy at the doctor’s office, and it said that I would have to opt out of an HIE. What does that mean exactly?

Opt in and opt out are terms that are important to understand.

To find out whether your health care provider (your doctor, pharmacist, or hospital, for example) are opting your records in or out of an HIE, first request a copy of the privacy notice, sometimes called the Notice of Privacy Practices or NPP. Each HIPAA-covered entity (like your doctor or a hospital or pharmacy) must provide a copy of its privacy notice to anyone who asks for one. In addition, a copy should be available on the website of each covered entity (if the covered entity has a website).

After you have the policy in hand, search the notice for any mention of “health information exchanges” or electronic sharing of records. In an ideal world, any health care provider participating in a HIE will note the name and contact information of the HIE right in the privacy notice, and they will also discuss your sharing and opt in and opt out options. This discussion should ideally be clear and plain to you.

If there is any confusion at all, be persistent and ask your health care provider directly about HIEs and opt in and opt out. You may need to go to an administrator or the medical records office for a full answer. A best practice for a health care provider is to tell patients up front and in writing that they participate in one or more HIEs and whether or not patients are automatically opted in or out.

If you still aren’t sure, look on the WPF HIE map to find the name of your health care provider in California. To do this, scan the text list on the map. If your health care provider is listed under an HIE, you will find the HIE name, HIE web site phone number, and other details as available.


Watch the video  (1:35 min.)

Read tips and FAQs about HIEs and your health privacy

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