Op-Ed Article

Download op-ed Word document here

February 18, 2020

Vermont’s Health Information Exchange — Your Sharing Options

Scott Strenio, MD, Medicaid Medical Director
Department of Vermont Health Access

Jenney Samuelson, Deputy Commissioner
Department of Vermont Health Access

Getting good care can mean a lot of paperwork. Much of it involves making sure you are covered for the services you need. But what’s most important, is that your health care provider can have quick access to your complete medical record so they can provide you with the best and most appropriate care. For that to happen, records need to be available electronically.

Many of us will see more than one doctor somewhere along the line. The Vermont Health Information Exchange keeps health records in one place, so that when you see a participating doctor, your health history, lab test results and records from your other providers are right there, ready for your doctor to see.

Until now, Vermonters had to “opt-in” to the Health information Exchange, or actively state that they wanted their records shared with their health care providers. Fortunately, that’s about to change.

Starting March 1, 2020, you will no longer have to sign up to allow your health care providers to view your records. It will now happen automatically. For anyone who prefers not to participate, they can choose to opt out.

The Health Information Exchange is essentially a data sharing service. Just as you can access the same document on either your phone or computer, when your doctor updates your record, it’s immediately available for the next doctor – whether or not they are in the same practice or network, or if they’re in Bennington, Barton, Bakersfield or Brandon.

The Health Information Exchange is operated by Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL), a non-profit organization that works closely with our state’s health care providers. VITL is committed to the security of your personal health information. All data is encrypted and maintained in secure data centers.

From a public health perspective, the Health Information Exchange is an important resource. Appropriate patient care hinges on health care providers having essential information at the moment of decision. In short, more information = better care.

It is also a tool for helping us in our efforts to control the cost of health care. By having a patient’s complete medical history readily available, duplicate tests can be avoided, doctor’s offices can spend less time manually sharing records – reducing potential wait time for treatment, and more time that can be spent focused on your care.

With all that, it’s important for you to know that the choice to participate is yours. If you want to opt out, it’s easy.  You can visit VTHealthinfo.com to complete or download the opt out form, or call 888-980-1243. You can also talk with your health care provider. If you choose to not have your records shared, they are still in the Health Information Exchange. Your health care providers won’t be able to access them, but they can share information in the traditional way, such as by phone or fax. If you do opt out, you can always opt back in!

Find out more about the Vermont Health Information Exchange: VTHealthinfo.com.

 

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