HHS proposes HIPAA rule changes to enhance care coordination and patient engagement

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Thursday proposed changes to HIPAA rules that would enhance care coordination and allow patients to be more involved in their own healthcare.

According to HHS, the revisions would improve patients’ electronic access to their health information and also expand caregivers’ ability to care for individuals going through an emergency or health crisis.

Proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act would also provide flexibilities to disclose information in emergency situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid crisis. The agency would also reduce administrative burdens on HIPAA-covered healthcare providers and plans while maintaining patient privacy.

“Our proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule will break down barriers that have stood in the way of commonsense care coordination and value-based arrangements for far too long,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

The tweaks are part of Azar’s Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, which examines federal regulations to promote value-based care.

“As part of our broader efforts to reform regulations that impede care coordination, these proposed reforms will reduce burdens on providers and empower patients and their families to secure better health,” he added.

On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden selected Xavier Becerra, former U.S. congressman and current California Attorney General, to lead the HHS under his incoming administration.

The American College of Radiology and American Society for Radiation Oncology both came out in support of the decision. Others, including religious and conservative groups, meanwhile, cast doubts on the pick.