Recently I discovered a great new legal tool – (well, new to me. Maybe you have been
using it since it was introduced in 2010). The HITEC Act, which created a new way to get
Medical Records from Healthcare Providers.
The HITEC Act was enacted by the federal government in 2010 by 42 U.S.C.A. 17935.
One of the core goals of the HITECH Act is to revolutionize the copying of medical records as it relates to cost to the patient. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) aims to streamline the replication of medical records and hold medical providers accountable to cutting costs for patients.
On one of the 1 st cases we used this method to obtain records, we had previously sent a
HIPPA request and received an invoice for $616.59– after sending a notice to cancel the HIPPA and requesting the records under HITEC the new cost was 26.00! A SAVINGS OF 590.59!
However, the HITEC is not without its issues – as you can guess, providers and record
management companies hate when you request records this way, it’s a drain on a huge
revenue source and they will fight its applicability and try to avoid sending the records under this act.
I have streamlined a process for fighting these facilities objections – we have a 1 st
response to the objection, a second response, and a final response, before finally submitting a complaint to Office Civil Rights (OCR) for the providers failure to follow the clear federal guidelines. Initially, the objection we received most common was that the HITEC Act did not cover 3 rd party requests (Attorney to provider) – from my research, I believe it does – however, to circumvent this objection I created a form for Clients to directly request their records and simply ask they be sent to our address – while this hasn’t stopped all the frivolous objections it has decreased them.
If the provider has still refused to honor your HITECH request after your 3
noncompliance letters, file a complaint, and be aware that the penalties for providers who refuse to honor this provision can be quite hefty. As of February 18, 2011, the OCR is required to impose penalties ranging from $10,000.00 to more than $50,000 for HIPPA violations caused by a covered entity’s or business associate’s willful neglect.
On 2/4/2011 Cignet was fined $1,300,000.00 for failing to timely respond to 41 patients’ request to access their health information, and $3,000,000.00 for refusing to cooperate with OCR’s investigation. If you have to request medical records for any reason, I hope this can help you save some money.