Vermont considers opt-out approach to HIE to boost provider access to data

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The vendor running Vermont's health information exchange is considering changing its policy that automatically gives physicians access to patients' records and implementing an "opt-out" option for patients who do not wish to participate, reports VT Digger.

Vermont Information Technology Leaders warehouses data and runs the Vermont Health Information Exchange. Currently, patients have to give physicians permission to view their records on the exchange, and approximately 96 percent of patients have granted such permission, Rob Gibson, vice president of marketing for VITL told VT Digger. However, physicians say this policy is burdensome.

To alleviate that, Mr. Gibson said VITL is considering automatically giving physicians access to those records, and the 4 percent of patients who don't want to share that information can opt-out of the program, according to the report.

"What we're starting to hear from people is that having a requirement like we do now, with having everybody being required to opt in, creates extra work and administrative burden and sort of limits the flow of information," Mr. Gibson said in the report. "[The opt-out approach] would be certainly easier to manage, and it would certainly increase the flow of information and help information be shared."

However, proponents of the opt-in option say requiring patients to knowingly consent to sharing their information means patients are more likely aware of what they're agreeing to and know what's going on with their records. The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont favors an opt-in policy.

"There is a greater likelihood of informed consent when people have to make a decision to 'opt-in,' and the 'opt-out' start with a default that the person is in, and it requires no fault to have the person essentially enrolled in the system," Allen Gilbert, outgoing executive director of the ACLU of Vermont, told VT Digger.

More articles on HIEs:

How HIE policy affects volume of data exchange 
Perspective: EHRs, HIEs must collaborate with EMS for patient safety 
88% of providers say collaborative HIE initiatives improving payer-provider relations: 9 survey findings 

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