HHS updates rule on sharing patient substance use history

HHS issued a final rule Wednesday to ease the exchange of information on patients' substance use history between providers, insurers and third parties involved in the payment or delivery of care.

The update to HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's regulatory rules aims to eliminate red tape that can slow the reimbursement process and impede timely access to care. Under current regulations, patients must complete consent forms to share information on their substance use history with each individual entity involved in their payment or care delivery process.

"SAMHSA is seeking a balance between ensuring that patients with substance use disorders have the ability to participate in, and benefit from, new and emerging healthcare models that promote integrated care and patient safety and ensuring the confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records, given the potential for discrimination, harm to reputations and relationships, and serious civil and criminal consequences that could result from impermissible disclosures," HHS said in the final rule.

HHS officials said the rule is as closely aligned with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as possible to promote the exchanged of information between providers, facilitate interoperability and encourage more innovative models of healthcare delivery.

To read the full rule, click here.

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