On May 3, 2010, the HHS Office of Civil Rights issued a Request for Information to assist it in the development of regulations implementing the expanded HITECH rights individuals have to an accounting of protected health information disclosures through an electronic health record. Currently, individuals have a right under HIPAA to an accounting of certain uses and disclosures of their PHI. This accounting excludes disclosures made for the purposes of “treatment,” “payment,” or “healthcare operations.” Beginning January 1, 2011, HITECH eliminates these accounting exceptions in the event the disclosure is through an Electronic Health Record (EHR).

The Request for Information seeks responses to nine questions. These questions primarily focus on (i) what benefits the new accounting information will offer to individuals and what data elements the accounting should include, (ii) whether individuals understand their existing accounting rights and what additional education may be necessary, (iii) how existing EHR systems work and whether they are capable of tracking the additional uses and disclosures, (iv) what additional burdens, if any, compliance will impose upon covered entities and (v) whether covered entities will be administratively and technically ready to begin complying as of January 1, 2011 and, if not, how much additional time will be necessary. Comments are due on or before May 18, 2010. HHS is particularly seeking input from covered entities, individuals and consumer advocates, and vendors of EHR systems.

Any companies that offer or use electronic health records may be interested in this new patient accounting obligation and may wish to consider submitting or monitoring comments.

The Request for Information can be found at 75 Fed. Reg. 23214 http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-10054.pdf.