N.H. medical record privacy rules to go beyond HIPAA
New Hampshire government might tighten health information privacy regulations that that would not replace, but rather go beyond HIPAA and pertain specifically to all entities handling health information.

The state’s House committee is considering House Bill 1587, co-sponsored by State Reps. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, and Neal Kurk, R-Weare. Kurk said he favors giving individuals as much control over their health information as possible.

"We are changing from an age of paper records to an age of electronic records, and that has huge implications for privacy," Kurk said. “The move to electronic records increases the risk of security breaches and "exacerbates the privacy issues that already exist.”

Kurk said technology eventually will let a person's health record be broken down into sections, and he'd like patients to have control over who has access to each section. Current technology only allows either for all access or none, he added.

Kurk said when states are hooked up to health information exchanges — in which multiple health providers have access to a person's record — an individual's control of each section will be more important. Several states, including Maine, are exploring exchanges.

The bill contains a provision that lets a person request an audit trail of who accessed their information, when they accessed it and how much of it they saw. HIPAA does not.

Patrick Miller, a research professor at the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice, affiliated with the University of New Hampshire in Durham, said the proposed state law also seeks to put stricter regulations on health information used for research.

The law also would create a study committee to look into the creation of a standard health information release form all healthcare providers in the state could use, Miller said. "It will help reduce operational cost, and it's a lot leaner than everyone doing their own thing.”

Kathy Bizarro, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, testified against the measure.

"We're concerned that House bill 1587 tips the balance in such a way that it will create problems by impeding access to critical health information necessary for the effective and efficient delivery of quality healthcare," Bizarro said.

She added that if every state enacted stricter but different privacy laws, it would make it nearly impossible for healthcare providers to share information from state to state.